WARNERVILLE, N.Y. (NEWS10) — A rally has been planned for Wednesday afternoon, from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., outside the Warnerville United Methodist Church. Hours later, the church will be closed, despite once being the only warming center for homeless individuals in Schoharie County.
The station was shut down by the Town of Richmondville in November 2022. Before that, the program, sponsored by Catholic Charities and the Department of Social Services, was able to provide cots, bathrooms, a washer and dryer, warm drinks, water, and microwaveable meals to 10 people nightly. Trained supervisors were on duty round-the-clock, helping keep the environment safe and comfortable for all.
This was not a homeless shelter, Fran Sossei, president of the board at Warnerville United Methodist Church, stressed in a November interview. People would come in around 5:30 p.m. each night and leave by 8 a.m. There were extensive safety procedures in place, including a check-in process where medications were confiscated.
The warming station was only open for about three weeks before it was shut down. The Richmondville codes officer shut the station down on what Sossei called a “vague law for hamlets.”
Following the rally Wednesday, advocates plan to march to the Richmondville Fire Hall to attend the Zoning Board of Appeals hearing at 5 p.m. “This is not only a human-interest story but a First Amendment issue,” a spokesperson for nearby Cobleskill United Methodist Church said in an emailed statement. “The zoning board has deemed that providing shelter for homeless individuals is not within the realm of the ministry of the church.”
If you wish to join, advocates are meeting outside the Warnerville church, at 1615 Route 7, just before 3:30 p.m. As always, people can voice their opinion on the closing of the warming station at the zoning board meeting as well.