Irvine Hopes to House Homeless in Fancy Kennel

September 24, 1987|From Associated Press

The Irvine City Council has voted to go ahead with plans to convert a state-of-the-art dog kennel into homeless housing, despite sharp protests from some people upset about the indignity of it all and others who fear that it will attract more transients.

The council, however, also ordered consideration of alternatives, including moving portable housing to the site and seeking private donations of space.

The vote early Wednesday followed a public hearing that ended after midnight Tuesday.

"I'm concerned with the human dignity of people being placed in animal shelters," resident Catherine Peters told the council.

"How we treat the poor, the oppressed and the homeless is of utmost importance to God," said Michael Winstead, pastor of University United Methodist Church, one of a dozen clergymen urging approval of some form of shelter.

Homeowners who live near the site, which includes another kennel normally occupied by 40 dogs and cats, feared a shelter would become a magnet for the down-and-out.

"I'm afraid this great city will no longer be a paradise when the vagrants arrive," said Louis Roberts, secretary of the Orangetree Condominium Assn. "Don't make, 'Give us your tired, your weary and your homeless,' our city slogan."

Irvine Mayor Larry Agran said sentiment appeared evenly divided on the issue of whether the city should provide more housing for the homeless in this prosperous Orange County community.

The shelter plan originated because the city's only group helping the homeless, the nonprofit Irvine Temporary Housing, turns away 20 to 30 families a month. Single homeless people depend on county programs.

City staff proposed converting the kennels, which have never been used by dogs and have heated floors for cool nights and air-conditioning. The plan comes up for final approval Nov. 24.

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