Nick McWilliams reporting – Following a public forum on the idea of a new homeless shelter in New Philadelphia, more community members met with city council advocating for the build.

The forum was attended by a few dozen citizens, asking questions of homeless shelter leaders and voicing any concerns they might have.

Pastor and President of the Friends of the Homeless of Tuscarawas County Joe Svancara spoke during council Monday night, and said that the shelter wants to work to make the new build a reality in any way possible.

“We are not stuck on getting our way on anything. Everything is negotiable. Everything we want to do in the spirit of compromise to meet halfway on a common issue. And to truly work with you, be your friends, be your allies and your partners, in order to truly meet the needs of the homeless and the disadvantaged.”

In order for the shelter to be built on a proposed site behind Preach the Word Ministries the city would need to rezone the property, which is under consideration by the zoning and annexation committee, chaired by Councilwoman Cheryl Ramos. 

Sharon Ricklic, a long-time educator with New Philadelphia and wife of Councilman Kelly Ricklic, voiced her own opinion Monday, and expressed some frustration in some of the resistance she has seen from community members.

Our young people are the future of our communities. And I feel right now that we are not setting a very good example for them. We are showing our young people that it is okay to turn our back on a population of people that need our help.”

Ricklic called upon leaders to consider the legacy that will be left if the homeless shelter closes due to its deterioration and the lack of a new location, along with keeping a proactive approach in mind. 

The homeless shelter has been fielding questions related to screening of incoming residents of the shelter, crime rates, drug issues, and a host of other topics.

Ramos said that the committee is expected to meet soon for consideration of the change.

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