'Damp' homeless shelter proposed

Posted: Tuesday, December 30, 2008

FAIRBANKS - Community advocates want to create a shelter in Fairbanks that would protect homeless people from the cold, even if they are intoxicated.

The Ecumenical Faith Based Mission for the Homeless is looking at a potential site in south Fairbanks for such a "damp" shelter.

Cindy Fields, a community organizer and soup kitchen director, says the nonprofit organization is negotiating a price for the building.

There is no homeless shelter in Fairbanks that admits people under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Several local church congregations are pooling money and resources under the organization's umbrella to be put toward the project. Many details still need to be worked out, but Fields said the effort is moving forward.

"This is no longer just a knee-jerk reaction," she said. "We're really focusing on working together effectively with the purpose of getting this shelter up and running."

There has been some opposition to the idea, but Fields said she sees the shelter as a step in the recovery process and hopes visitors to the shelter would have access to resources to better their lives.

"We're not reinventing the wheel here," Fields said. "We're trying to prevent another freezing death because it's simply inexcusable."

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