Zoning Board allows Keystone Mission to use new building for 24-hour homeless shelter

Scranton is one step closer to having an overnight, 24-hour homeless shelter.

The zoning board just voted to have Keystone Mission set up shop on the 500 block of Wyoming Avenue.

The board voted 4-to-1, as the new shelter will have 50 beds and overnight staff and private security.

But it hasn’t been an easy road.

Keystone Mission’s plan has been met by scrutiny because the shelter will be downtown. Attorneys representing business and property owners at Wednesday’s hearing had concerns, and property owners themselves even spoke before the board, saying the shelter would hurt business and shelters in the area have been an issue before. We also heard from a Lackawanna College representative. Campus is right nearby and the school has concerns too.

Board members did say there is a desperate need to help homeless people in the city. Keystone said Wednesday it will have 14 full time employees- and private security at night.

“When I heard the 4-to-1 it was the most amazing thing I could hear,” Keystone Mission Executive Director Justin Behrens said. “Because finally our dream’s coming true. 12 years waiting but we finally have a homeless shelter we could build. That we can now give back to Scranton that we can do something productive to the community. It’s a great day. We still have a long road ahead of us. But God did great things.”

Behrens added it’ll be 18 months before the shelter is ready to go. Attorneys representing property owners near the shelter say this isn’t over.