The Community Connection

Council extends homeless shelter

- By Evan Brandt ebrandt@21st-centurymed­ @PottstownN­ews on Twitter

POTTSTOWN » Without comment, the borough council voted unanimousl­y to extend permission for a homeless warming center to continue to be operated in the former St. Aloysius parish school on North Hanover Street.

Last month, council hesitated granting the request from Pottstown Living in Faith Together, or LIFT, the non-profit religious organizati­on which initially set up the shelter last autumn.

Called “Al’s Heart Warming Center,” after the late Allan Altschull, who helped start Pottstown LIFT, the center opened in the former St. Aloysius Parish School on North Hanover Street with permission from the council that was granted on an emergency basis.

The COVID-19 pandemic had made it impossible for the overnight winter shelters held previously in various churches to be run due to the difficulti­es of maintainin­g the social distances needed to stem the spread of the virus.

With some of the COVID restrictio­ns being lifted and vac

cinations on the rise, Assistant Borough Solicitor Matt Hovey warned council last month that extending an emergency authorizat­ion beyond the actual emergency “is really stretching our zoning.”

Zoning may come into play, council was told during the May 5 work session when Borough Manager Justin Keller told council that LIFT may look to open the warming center at a different location eventually.

Borough Solicitor Charles D. Garner Jr. told council last week that LIFT can always go to the zoning board to seek a variance for continuing to operate the shelter at the St. Aloysius site.

Councilman Ryan Procsal said whatever council decides, it should provide the answer Monday night, and the answer turned out to be “yes.”

Although council voted to extend its authorizat­ion to May 22, 2022, the center still plans to close on April 30, when its authorizat­ion expires.

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