A new advisory committee is helping the Housing Assistance Corporation move toward reducing beds at the NOAH Center shelter in Hyannis.
“The goal is to discourage people from coming, in a compassionate way,” Housing Assistance Corporation CEO Rick Presbrey told fellow members of the Main Street Initiative Sept. 14. “A different admissions policy and triage are part of it.”
Noting that his description of ideas being discussed was “not a promise,” Presbrey said the advisory committee is considering a policy of limited stays. It’s something that could require a legislative change, but he believes the Cape’s delegation would be supportive.
“The overall goal is to get down to 20 [beds],” he said. “We might go further than that.”
Ideas include relocating facilities for women, which Presbrey said would drop the bed count on North Street from 60 to 40. There’s also talk of small shelters in Falmouth and Orleans.
Presbrey said he’s talked with Heidi Nelson, the new CEO of the Duffy Center, about a “different relationship” in which “Duffy’s making decisions about who gets in” to the shelter. Someone who comes to NOAH for services wouldn’t be turned away that night, he said, but they’d be at Duffy the next day “and may not come back to NOAH.”
Deborah Converse, CEO of the Hyannis Chamber of Commerce, said the 20-bed goal was “very ambitious” and asked for a timeframe. Presbrey said his advisory committee would “kill him” if he offered a date.
“There have been enough false starts,” said Bob Ciolek, who’s representing the Greater Hyannis Civic Association on the shelter advisory committee. “Once we begin, we’ll keep to a timeline.”
“We’re going to need a unified community to do it,” Presbrey said. “I’ve forgotten about the past. It’s talking about the present and the future for me.”
Also at this week’s meeting, Main Street Initiative members heard also that funds are running out at the Community Action Committee of Cape Cod and Islands and the Cape Cod Council of Churches for the two outreach workers who have been crucial to the effort’s success.
Members of the advisory committee working with HAC on the NOAH Center are Elizabeth Gawron of The Community Foundation, Rick Penn of Puritan Clothing, Diane Casey Lee of the Cape Cod Council of Churches, retired bank president Larry Squire, Chuck Robinson of Rogers and Gray Insurance, emergency room physician Dr. Nate Rudman, Paul Hebert of CHAMP Homes, Rev. Dr. John Terry of Federated Church of Hyannis, Joel Crowell of Cape Cod Cooperative Bank, and Bob Ciolek.