Skip to comments.OH: City Tells Church it Will Lose Religious Designation Because it Shelters Homeless People
Posted on 12/28/2019 8:12:00 PM PST by upchuck
Earlier this week, on Christmas Eve, an order from the city of Cleveland was posted on the door of the Denison Avenue United Church of Christ, demanding that they kick out the homeless people that they had been allowing to sleep on their property or face losing their status with the city as a religious organization.
The order came from the Cleveland Division of Fire, citing code violations that they claim are dangerous for the inhabitants. The city is following the letter of the law, in this case, suggesting that it is illegal to change the official use of the building without first filling out the required paperwork and making significant changes to the property.
According to the citys building department, for the church to give shelter to homeless people, they would need to go through a costly process of not only updating the building but also getting the required permits and licenses that would designate the building as a homeless shelter.
There are basically two arguments here.
First, you can’t just open the door to a heated building and say it’s open for all incoming ‘guests’. There has to be organization to this, certain limits on how many can be safely housed for the evening, and sanitation efforts detailed out. For some church operations, they haven’t done their homework, or understood what they are volunteering to do.
Second, city governments usually do a crappy job when they stand up and suggest they will run such-and-such program. In the cases where churches have been involved and gotten support from it’s membership (qualified managers, technicians, craftsmen, etc)...they’ve normally done a better job.
The socialists who run the City are raving bonkers crazy.
Well perhaps the church needs to update the place to code. I mean fire alarms and sprinklers can come in handy. I hate when article titles basically lie through their teeth by exaggerating the reason.
Not really. The city certainly cannot tell a Church it will lose its religious designation. What it can do is tell the Church if the use of a building changes it must meet the building, accessibility, life safety codes for that occupancy. The changes required would be more substantial if the building was expected to hold a large number of people.
It seems like overkill but what happens if a fire breaks out and there are not enough exits? You can be sure the city would face scrutiny for not requiring needed upgrades.
What happens if fire breaks out during services?
The building seems adequate to hold a lot of sitting people during a worship service. Until the number of shelterees gets up near the number of members in attendance, fire safety should already be good.
I think the issue comes more with sanitation. I suspect restrooms are inadequate for overnight stays but OK for two hour visits.
Don't get me wrong here -- I am not in favor of churches providing shelter for the homeless unless it is in a separate, well managed building. There are just too many bad things that can happen when a church gathers up a significant number of mentally challenged drug addicts and gives them free run of the place.
Everybody would be dressed and ready to leave the building. They wouldn't have to navigate around cots, sleeping bags, backpacks or other obstacles on the floor. They would be sober and able to quickly follow instructions to evacuate. It would, for the most part, be their regular church so they would know where the closest exit was and alternatives if that one was blocked.
There are probably a few more good reasons why it would be different but that was just off the top of my head.
I belong to a church that is housed in a hundred year old feed store. We had a homeless old carpenter that did work around the place and slept in his truck. Gradually he built himself a nest in the wet, cold dirty basement. He stayed on and off for a couple of years. Technically, the building was not zoned or equipped to be a domicile. This is a safety issue, not a church/state issue. It would be better for the members to either have these people in their homes or sponsor them to stay in an adequate facility. There could be a NIMBY component to this, but I believe the city is right.
fire and safety codes need to be fallowed but I am betting that this has more to do with the impact a homeless warming center has on the neighborhood then fire codes. depending on the numbers this can have a big impact on those who live near the church
I also thought of the restroom situation. The exits may be adequate and I just used that as an example that often need to be changed when an occupancy changes.
I agree about the bad things that can happen and I wonder how the church’s insurance carrier feels about them operating a shelter.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.