Lima quarantine facility shut down on 2nd reading

By Josh Ellerbrock -

LIMA — Lima City Council rejected a $500,000 Community Development Block Grant allocation towards an isolation and quarantine facility for the homeless for the second time after more details emerged about the project’s intent during council’s Monday night meeting.

Council President John Nixon, who voted against the measure during its first reading, again opposed the project, but this time around, he was joined by Councilors Jon Neeper, Peggy Ehora and Jamie Dixon. Councilor Derry Glenn abstained from the vote.

“My bottom line is I’m not going to support a permanent ongoing homeless shelter. I’m simply not going to support it,” Nixon said.

Initially billed as a facility used to house COVID-19 positive individuals who don’t have the means to self-isolate, additional details — provided by Mental Health & Recovery Services Board of Allen, Auglaize & Hardin Counties Executive Director Tammy Colon — explained why the city administration is working to allocate $500,000 toward a project that won’t be built until after the pandemic is over.

Essentially, if approved, the dollars would help create a 10-unit facility to be used to house homeless families as they worked toward financial independence because current social services can’t fulfill the need. Such a facility could also be used to help isolate families in case of any subsequent pandemics.

Multiple transitional housing units for homeless individuals do already exist in the city — ran by a hodgepodge of different service providers — but there’s a lack of apartments created specifically for homeless families. If approved, the $500,000 would help bridge that need by providing seed money to Coleman Professional Services to create such a facility.

Councilors, however, had issues with such a proposal.

Nixon voiced concerns about the city’s obligations to such a project. He said he’s seen such projects in the past tie up city dollars, and despite assurances from social service providers and city administrators to the contrary, he said could not vote in support of the motion.

Councilor Jamie Dixon said that if the facility is a sticking point to passing the ordinance, he motioned to amend it by stripping the $500,000 spend and opted to reallocate those dollars to business and rental assistance.

That motion also failed to pass, as the only supporters were Neeper, Dixon and Nixon.

Such movements left council in something of a quandary. With the ordinance failing to pass on second reading, it will be in front of the council again in two weeks for its third and final reading. If the vote tallies remain the same during that meeting, city administrators will have to go back to the drawing board in order to approve how CDBG-CV dollars are spent. Any substantial changes will require another round of public meetings, and it will be potentially months before any CDBG-CV funds actually make it into the hands of those who need it to weather the pandemic.

By Josh Ellerbrock

Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.

Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.

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