Durant OKs plan for homeless shelter - KTEN.com - Texoma news, weather and sports

Durant OKs plan for homeless shelter

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Jerrica Plew has no place to live in Durant. (KTEN) Jerrica Plew has no place to live in Durant. (KTEN)
There are several homeless encampments around Durant. (KTEN) There are several homeless encampments around Durant. (KTEN)
Michelle Chester shows the property on West University Boulevard that she hopes to transform into a homeless shelter in Durant. (KTEN) Michelle Chester shows the property on West University Boulevard that she hopes to transform into a homeless shelter in Durant. (KTEN)

DURANT, Okla. -- There's no homeless shelter in Durant, but there are several impromptu camps around the city established by those who have no place else to live.

A proposal to create a more permanent space for the homeless was approved Tuesday night by the Durant Planning Commission.

"That shelter is what everyone needs instead of freezing at nighttime," said Jerrica Plew. She's accustomed to spending nights outside in the freezing cold .after a year on the streets.

"We need places to stay, because a lot of people, they have no where to go, so they are going to go off and be in places they don't need to be," Plew said.

Michelle Chester wants to change that.

"We are wanting to open a transitional shelter," she said. "We're tagging it a 'community shelter,' and we are wanting to build a relationship with homeless people and rebuild them and return them."

Chester, CEO I'm-Possible Inc., said the proposed shelter at 4310 West University Boulevard was once home to King's Closet owned by Victory Life Church.

Doreatha Gordon, a 91-year-old widow who owns property adjacent to the site, wrote a letter to the City Council voicing her opposition to the plan.

"I feel there are most likely other places in the city, possibly downtown, that would be better suited than a residential neighborhood such as this," she said.

The shelter plan got a second hearing Tuesday night after being unanimously rejected by the planning commission last month.  City Manager Tim Rundel said the city is aware of the homeless problem and the need for a shelter.

"We know as a city and Bryan County we are rapidly growing, and a lot of good things are going on," he said. "With that comes other issues, and this is one of them."

I'm-Possible got its permit approved Tuesday night, clearing the way for the city's first home for the homeless.

"The shelter is what would help everybody get back up on their feet, and it would basically be a glimpse of hope for life," Jerrica Plew said.

The shelter will be completely operated and funded by the non-profit group.

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