ESCANABA - The issue of homelessness is receiving some attention from Escanaba officials who have agreed to create a task force to understand the problem, identify needs, and develop solutions.
After much discussion by concerned members of the public and council members, a motion was passed at Thursday's Escanaba City Council meeting to form a county-wide task force. Those interested in participating are asked to notify the city.
The issue was placed on the agenda as a result of concerns expressed by agency representatives and other community members who are advocates for helping the homeless. (See related story.) The group submitted 123 signatures of persons supporting efforts to have the city zone multiple areas for transitional housing.
City Manager Jim O'Toole suggested the task force be formed to understand homelessness in the county, identify needs and gaps in services, and develop a county-wide strategy to solve problems including zoning issues.
"This can be a short-order process if it's done right," he said.
Following discussion between council and the concerned citizens, O'Toole noted it's evident that everyone needs an understanding on the issue so any decisions can be made based on facts.
The task force could conduct an inventory on what facilities and services are available to the homeless throughout the county, he said.
Representatives from the county and Gladstone will be invited to join the group. Two members of Escanaba's planning commission will also participate. Council member Brady Nelson agreed to represent city council.
Others interested in joining the task force are asked to call the city manager's office at 786-9402. Council plans to appoint members to the group at its regular meeting on Dec. 20.
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Jenny Lancour, (906) 786-2021, ext. 143, firstname.lastname@example.org