‘It’s a lot of anxiety,’ says homeless man about shelter’s closing

Published: Jan. 4, 2023 at 5:23 PM EST
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - Watertown’s temporary homeless shelter is set to close at the end of this week. Jefferson County officials say part of the reason is that the shelter’s residents aren’t doing enough to help themselves.

Watertown’s temporary homeless shelter has gone from being open 24 hours a day to running from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Soon it won’t be open at all.

“It’s a lot of anxiety. The indecisions are maddening at times, not knowing where you’re going to be tomorrow,” said Peter Hagerman, who has been at the shelter since November. “I don’t understand why they are closing it. We got kind of settled in here, and for the moment, for all intents and purposes, this is our home. And so we don’t have a home anymore.”

County Legislator Anthony Doldo says the temporary shelter is closing mainly because some people staying there are not doing their part to help themselves, like showing up for appointments which would eventually help them find permanent housing.

The homeless will be encouraged to go to the Salvation Army’s warming center, open from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. where they can sleep, eat and shower. But there’s a goal there.

“To get them on a track to end homelessness for them, to get a plan in place, to sign up for assistance through the agencies, through DSS or other partner places that may be able to help them,” said Captain Elizabeth Nicol, Salvation Army.

With the temporary shelter closing by the weekend, it’s adding to Hagerman’s anxiety.

“Dump me out on the street with nowhere to go and no idea if you’re going to have a roof above your head,” he said.

The county will still have the Department of Social Services find ways to assist the homeless and displaced population.