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Donations Keep Ogden Homeless Shelter Open

Donations Keep Ogden Homeless Shelter Open

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OGDEN, Utah (AP) -- Donations of $10,500 have saved the St. Anne's Center homeless shelter from possible closure, its director said.

"The response from the public has been overwhelming," said director Anna Jane Arroyo. "I'm hoping we can make it into January without having to dip into our endowment."

Meanwhile, city officials are talking about helping to relocate the downtown shelter to somewhere away from 25th Street area they have been trying to revitalize.

The donations by 32 individuals and organizations have arrived since Arroyo said two weeks ago that the center was in danger of shutting down within a matter of months if more money were not forthcoming.

"America First Credit Union gave us a check for $4,600, and we received a couple of $1,000 donations," Arroyo said. "I also had people call in and ask if they could give $20. It's like my mom used to say -- don't be too proud to pick up a penny, because you never know when it will add up to a dollar."

The shelter's three-story downtown building has been in need of rehabilitation and maintenance.

Deputy Mayor Joe Reyna said the city might be able to purchase the building and help start a capital campaign to raise funds for a new building.

A relocated shelter would need to be kept within reach of several social services near the central business district.

"It would have to be within city limits, with public transportation available," Arroyo said. "The people we serve need to be able to access the Department of Workforce Services, Weber Human Services, Social Security, food pantries, housing authorities and temporary work facilities."

Councilman Brandon Stephenson supports the idea of St. Anne's relocating.

"With all the research and thinking we did with the issues revolving around the class A beer license, this (homelessness) is obviously a serious issue with the council," Stephenson said.

Due to panhandling and public intoxication, the council approved a ban on class A beer licenses within 150 feet of Historic 25th Street, which means that two nearby convenience stores will no longer sell carryout beer after the first of the year.

"That's just a temporary solution. The long-term solution would be to do something about the vagrancy, which is impacted by the shelters and hotels on 25th Street," Stephenson said.

Councilwoman Amy Wicks, said, "It creates a problem for the areas we're trying to revitalize, but how do you displace these people? If you move them, you have to place the alternative near services which they need to survive and get out of the situation."

Arroyo said, "Right now we can't afford to move. If the city wants to help make it happen and it can be a win-win for the city and the people we serve, then we would be interested."

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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