Johnstown City Council held a special meeting on Tuesday in a “use it or lose it” situation where they voted unanimously to approve a resolution amending the city’s 2021 HOME-ARP Allocation plan and annual action plan. The city is essentially requesting the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to approve funds to construct a homeless shelter. The council was faced with opposition from residents during the public comment portion of the meeting.
“We want to take care of the needs of the locals in Johnstown “I’ve been around long enough where they fought the originals, the Martha Mary house, the other services that are now in place. It’s just another piece in the cycle here unfortunately society’s needs and the people out there that need more support and help that just aren’t making it We’re looking at another facility to be able to help those that are homeless and those in need in our community in Johnstown.”
Melissa Barrett is a survivor of domestic and sexual violence and is currently a resident in the Martha and Mary House. She spoke her concerns to the council about the potential consequences a new “low-barrier” shelter could cause for others in her situation.
“There have to be things in place if this is going to be helping our community, It needs to stay in the community It would be better placed in providing income-based housing for us to have permanent residence not just temporary shelter.”
Residents also expressed concerns over the possibility that a new shelter could impact the amount of transient populations in Johnstown.
“This money would better serve the people that actually live in Cambria county,” said John DeBartola, a Cambria county commissioner candidate. “Help them find permanent housing. Don’t bring people from outside the area that aren’t Cambria county residents.”
The U.S Department of Housing and Urban development now has 45 days to review the plans before any decision is made.