Warming Station For Homeless
Opens At Church In Port Jervis
PORT JERVIS — Last week, the Tri-State Interfaith Council and Deerpark Reformed Church announced the opening of the Port Jervis Warming Station at St. Peter's Church on West Main Street in Port Jervis to help the homeless get through wintry nights from Dec. 1 to March 31, according to the council's Warming Station project spokesperson Zachary Pearce. St. Peter's Pastor Aaron Baughman and wife Pattie welcomed the homeless. He expressed satisfaction that their church could be the host facility the first year of the project.
The station provides the homeless a place to get out of the cold during the hours of 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. The station is not a full-time homeless shelter, such as the Homeless Shelter in Middletown, NY, according to Empowering Port organizers Jack Austin and Annie Horsham. During severe winter weather, survival is at risk without shelter, according to Austin and Horsham. They are sharing their experience in coordinating Empowering Port Jervis's warming station at 11 Fowler St. for the past three winters, according to Pearce. Empowering Port operated in the winters of 2013-14 through 2015-2016. They helped 35 guests (a total of 189 nightly visits) the first winter, 17 guests (a total of 134 visits) the next winter, and 23 guests (a total of 137 visits) in the third winter.
Empowering Port lobbied the Port Common Council for a city-sponsored warming station and funding. Austin noted that since the city is not a social service agency, the Common Council was unable to dedicate space or fund such a facility. Also, the Empowering Port facility on Fowler Street was not zoned as a shelter and was not insured for such use. The city allowed Empowering Port to be used as a temporary warming station for a few years based on emergency needs. City Police also allowed use of City Hall as an emergency shelter on a few very cold nights. City mayors and council encouraged Empowering Port to find another solution since the city codes and regulations did not permit such uses at 11 Fowler Street, and Empowering Port couldn't raise sufficient funds to run such a program long term.
This year, in February, when members of Empowering Port joined a group organized by Jack Pearce of Deerpark Reformed Church to form the Interfaith Council, a Warming Station project, the city had a program and facility where all the I's could be dotted and T's crossed, according to Austin... for complete story, get this week's issue.