It may be hard to prevent the "not in my backyard" sentiments that erupted this past weekend among some residents of the Albemarle Square community, where city officials plan to open a temporary homeless shelter. Certainly, more advance notice and efforts to prepare the neighborhood would have helped - but the deal for the city to purchase the building was not finalized until about a week ago.
Now, community residents should take to heart Mayor Sheila Dixon's promise to beef up police protection inside and outside the shelter during its 90-day existence. They should also keep in mind that this shelter for up to 275 people per night may help alleviate the problem of the homeless congregating in a nearby church park - and that the shelter is merely another means to the larger goal of ending homelessness.
Approaching that goal will require some fits and starts while the city prepares to open a permanent shelter by November 2009. City officials have learned that providing a place for the homeless to come 24 hours a day, seven days a week and giving them intensive support services is essential to stabilizing them for permanent housing. And a facility that helps turn temporary squatters into long-term neighbors is in everyone's best interest.