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Dover Councilman would welcome homeless shelter to city

| September 22, 2022
The homeless shelter at 211 E. High Ave. in New Philadelphia.

DOVER (WJER) (September 22, 2022) – A city councilman would like the city to bring the Tuscarawas County homeless shelter to Dover.

Councilman Bob Mueller says it’s clear to him New Philadelphia doesn’t want it after officials there shot down a proposal to build a new shelter at 250 S. Broadway.

“I would hope that our current mayor and council and anyone else in the administrator would reach out to Jeff Mathias and his group and maybe lure them to Dover,” Mueller said. “Maybe we would not put them in an industrial area or anything less than [someplace] positive for families and kids.”

Dover Interim Mayor Shane Gunnoe says he met with representatives from the Friends of the Homeless organization Tuesday to go over the city’s zoning laws as the nonprofit looks for a new home for the shelter.

“There’s nothing specific in the works as it relates to the city of Dover, at least based on the information they provided me,” Gunnoe said.

“They wanted a copy of our zoning ordinances… We informed them that would be considered a multifamily housing complex that’s residential in nature so they would have to meet all of the residential zoning requirements of the city of Dover.”

Recommended locations won’t work

New Philadelphia officials recommended six other sites to the Friends of the Homeless. Five of them are in Dover.

Gunnoe says those aren’t appropriate locations for a homeless shelter.

“The five locations that the New Phila Board of Zoning Appeals suggested in Dover, four of which were zoned for business, one of which was zoned for manufacturing, so those are probably not going to work,” Gunnoe said.

Mueller says that response from New Philadelphia to the Friends of the Homeless was in poor taste.

“I think it’s disgusting that New Phila did that to those representatives and I’m pretty sure we can do better,” Mueller said.

The shelter campaign

The Friends of the Homeless is raising money and looking for about 2 1/2 acres of land for a new shelter. Pastor Joe Svancara, the president of the Friends of the Homeless board, says the current one at 211 E. High Ave is in disrepair.

“It’s just not a good place for a homeless shelter,” he said. “Right now, the building is in a deteriorating condition. Upkeep and maintenance are taking a huge chuck out of our budget and it’s just not suitable – the construction style – in order to try to rehab it.”

The campaign – called House of Hope: Rebuilding Lives – hopes to raise $8 million to $10 million in two to three years through private donations.

Svancara says the new shelter would house 30 to 40 people, including men, women, families, and victims of domestic violence.

He says federal statistics indicate there are around 100 homeless people in Tuscarawas County daily. Donations to the campaign can be sent to Friends of the Homeless of Tuscarawas County, attention House of Hope: Rebuilding Lives, P.O. Box 466 in New Philadelphia.

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