Watertown’s Main Avenue shelter to stay open, with no closing date in view

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WATERTOWN — The temporary shelter on Watertown’s Main Avenue will likely stay open indefinitely as officials continue to search for solutions to the county’s housing shortage.

Legislator Anthony J. Doldo, who represents the northwest part of the city where the shelter is and chairs the county’s Health and Human Services Committee, said Tuesday that there are no immediate plans to close the shelter.

Officials last week said the plan was to start closing the temporary shelter this week, once the Christmas weekend storm was over and temperatures began to rise again. But Mr. Doldo said that’s likely not possible, with more than 20 people still using the shelter on a daily basis.

“We’re working on a plan here,” he said. “Whether it stays open longer or doesn’t, there are a lot of factors here, and that’s the problem.”

Mr. Doldo said there’s some difference of opinion among county officials and policymakers on how to address homelessness and housing insecurity.

He is unwilling to close down the shelter until a comparable solution has been found for its residents.

“Whether it’s now or next week or next year, whenever it is, it’s a moving target,” he said. “We’re allowing services to communicate with people, move them on to other things.”

And people have been helped. One of the residents interviewed by the Times when the shelter first opened has been placed at the High Street apartment complex that recently reopened, as have many other people who stayed at the shelter when it first opened mid-November after a winter storm hit the north country. Many people are in contact with local agencies and nonprofit groups to connect with services.

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