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Despite Opposition, Homeless Shelter To Open Thursday Near Worcester Schools

WORCESTER (CBS) - People in Worcester are not happy with a plan to turn a vacant nursing home into a temporary homeless facility.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030's Ben Parker reports.


The South Middlesex Opportunity Center (SMOC) on Main Street will begin temporarily sheltering the homeless on Thursday. The building, though, is surrounded by five schools and just feet away from a bus stop.

Neighbors fear drug addicts, alcoholics and even sex offenders will soon flock to the home for a 72-hour, or longer, assessment of their problems and needs.

WBZ-TV's Ken MacLeod reports.

"I'm absolutely opposed to this. It's the worst location they could have," said Rep. John Binienda (D) of Worcester.

Even the objections of a state representative mean little because the lease is already signed.

"Would you like to live next door to that? I wouldn't, and I do. I will," said Rep. Binienda.

The city manager has assured residents that SMOC's occupancy of the building is only temporary. Their one-year lease will expire next November.

"We welcome their input and we'll have meetings with them, and we'll listen to their concerns," said SMOC spokesperson Jane Lane.

The neighborhood, though, argues the deal was thrust on them with no chance for input.

Shop owner Steve Welch worries about his customers having to wade through panhandlers and used drug needles.

"If something does happen, who do I call? Who's responsible?" said Welch.

One mother worries about the safety of her two kids, and hundreds of others, who walk these streets.

"I'm not against the homeless. I'm not against facilities, I understand the city needs them. This is not a smart location," said Courtney Pertrou-Bateman, a Worcester mother.

Despite all the opposition, the old rest home will likely become a magnet for the area's homeless by the end of the week.


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