Homelesspeople

Sometimes an issue binds a community together. Other times, it finds friends and neighbors sitting on opposite doorsteps.

The latter is the case with an issue now brewing in upper Bonham — a proposal by several members of a local church to provide shelter for homeless families.

On March 12 members of the Saint Catherine’s Church that has sat quietly at Main and View streets for more than 50 years, held a community meeting to discuss a plan to invite six needy women and their children to stay in the church on a temporary basis.

The Sunday night meeting, attended by nearly 90 residents, lasted three hours and was lively and contentious. It was presided over by Assistant Pastor Brian Horton, who works for the Anna Hill Community Center on 11th Street, and Frank Tucker, a self-described “full-time volunteer” for the church, which has a congregation of 30. Pastor James Cook was not present.

Tucker, who said he was coordinating the logistics of the project, initiated the discussion by describing the current state of homelessness in Bonham and the difficulty of single-wage earners to acquire affordable housing.

Residents countered that they understood the plight of the homeless, but they wanted to hear specifics: what did the church plan to do, and when and how? Tucker and Horton responded that the plan was to refurbish the building at 453 View St. (which housed a movie theater in the ’70s) not only for use as a church sanctuary and meeting place but as a living space for homeless families.

A volunteer staff would be responsible for helping the families reconstruct their lives.

Horton added that he wanted to establish a secure, nurturing environment for homeless women and their children, until such time as they could get back on their feet.

He emphasized that the project was not a permanent shelter, but rather a transitional facility. He said that at the present time the church had no plans to ask the city to finance the renovation and that he had a “very rich Father”, referring to his faith in divine providence.