By Dom Giordano
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Dom Giordano spoke with Madelyn Mears-Sheldon, the President of Citizens Serving the Homeless on Talk Radio 1210 WPHT. The group has faced opposition from some residents of Lumberton, N.J. where they are planning to build a homeless shelter.
Mears-Sheldon said they have taken the time to hear from the community and adjusted their planning accordingly.
“We were going to have a low demand, walk in shelter. That was our original call. After listening to the concerns, we’re going to be taking referrals from the Board of Social Services in Burlington County, which will first screen people for income eligibility as well as residency and then come in for a second screening in to our facility.”
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She stated they have taken serious steps to protect the safety of their neighbors.
“We’re not taking any Megan’s Law convicted people that are on the registry, no sex offenders. The property is already fenced in with barbed wire around the top. We’re going to put in another fence for double security and privacy of the residents, as well as the guests, and we’re going to have a 24-hour security guard on site.”
Mears-Sheldon commented that while serious criminal violators will not be welcome, it is not right to exclude everyone with a record.
“We’re going to screen them. It depends on what it is. It could be a violation for driving. There are many people in the Burlington County jail on motor vehicle violations. Should we not take those people in?” she said.
She was confident that the group would be able find a compromise where the shelter will be able to co-exist within the community.
“It’s our job to respond to the needs of the community. We spend an awful lot of time preparing programs so that we can address the needs of the guests that are going to be coming as well as the neighbors and the neighborhood,” Mears-Sheldon stated.