The group of city-approved short-term rentals continues to grow in Harrisonburg, as the city council approved eight of nine such special use permits in a meeting on Tuesday evening. This was the second city council meeting during which these permit applications were reviewed since the council established the permitting process in March. The council approved the first three applications last month.
On warm spring and summer nights, the outlines of several people bedded down for the night are plainly visible outside Our Community Place. Many of those experiencing homelessness in Harrisonburg don’t have a lot of options for places to sleep, so they tuck themselves into quiet corners and shadows.
After several episodes this summer involving people panhandling — including the death of a dog and businesses reporting trespassing to the Harrisonburg Police Department —Mayor Deanna Reed called stakeholders to two meetings this week to discuss concerns and possible solutions.
When Shannon Porter, executive director of Mercy House, pictures someone who’s homeless, the mental image that springs to his mind isn’t a loner with gray hair and well-worn wrinkles.
About 25 people, holding signs with slogans such as “homeless rights are human rights” and “housing not handcuffs,” marched to council chambers from Court Square Tuesday in opposition of a proposed ordinance that was introduced to city council at their last meeting.