Puyallup recently imposed new rules that could force the New Hope Resource Center, the city’s only homeless day shelter, to close its doors for good.
The center classifies as a high impact business. Under new rules, the city says the center will need to hire professional security, install lighting, build a fence partially around the center, and create and monitor a hotline for complaints, among other things.
Executive Director Paula Anderson said the new rules would mean costly changes for the shoe-string budget homeless center.
“I don’t believe people are intentionally trying to put people out on the street, I just think there is not awareness in the public about the population that we do serve,” said Anderson.
The shelter has been the center of controversy in a community that’s grappling with a homeless epidemic. It opened in 2014, and over the last year, the city has received complaints from neighbors who say there is now an increase in criminal and drug activity in the area.
“They need to be in another location, and that’s really the main issue in this community,” said Jim Kastama, a Puyallup resident and former state senator who has testified at city council meetings against the center.
But those who consider the New Hope Resource Center a refuge say there is nowhere else for them to go during the day.
“If they close this place we’re going to be in very bad shape,” said 77-year-old Winne Patterson.
She has frequented the center for the last few months.
“I’ve been living in my car off and on for five years,” she said. “I’ve felt more love from everyone around here that I’ve felt in years and years. I’ve been very lonely.”
The Department of Justice is currently investigating the city of Puyallup for its policies related to high impact businesses and homelessness.
While Joe Beck, one of the city’s attorneys, provided us with the newly imposed rules, Mayor John Hopkins said he couldn’t comment on the rules due to the pending investigation.
The New Hope Resource Center has until the beginning of April to make the changes.