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Ask Joe: Could boarded up buildings be used to house the homeless?

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From the Ask Joe file, we are looking into a question about what a viewer says might be a possible solution to our homeless situation.

A couple of viewers, including Beth, have reached out to ask what's happening with the boarded up buildings near Fisherman's Park.

She wants to know if they could be converted into homeless shelters.

Here's what I found out:

There are three of those buildings, all empty and boarded up, just off of Galletti Way over by the mental health complex.

It would seem that at some point they were actually part of the state mental health facility campus . But they have been vacant for a while.

I checked with Martha Framstad at the Department of Health and Human Services about this.

She says the issue of what to do with these buildings has come up at the legislature in the past, but there's never been a lot of progress because of the cost to demolish them and build ones in their place.

Also, Framstad says they've decided not to use the buildings for the homeless because they feel doing so would isolate the homeless, and they prefer to locate them in areas where there are support services close by.

While mental health services are close by, Framstad says the homeless need other services like drug and alcohol rehabilitation, food and clothing.

So those buildings may continue to sit there, boarded up and vacant for some time to come. The ironic part about it is that when we went over there Monday, a neighbor told me there are homeless people living in them.

But again, the state says any homeless facility or shelter should be located closer to other supportive services in order to be successful. So those buildings are not being eyed as a potential solution to the problem.

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