The debate continues over when New Bedford's Emergency Overflow Shelter should open its doors.

Advocates for the homeless attended a meeting Thursday of the city's Homeless Service Provider Network contending the shelter's schedule is too haphazard, and there are nights when the shelter should be open, but isn't.

Network President Carl Alves told the advocates the Coggeshall Street shelter was never meant to be open every night.

"Our present system is insufficient, I don't deny that. But I can't fix that tomorrow, I can't be open every day and ask my folks (staff at PAACA) to volunteer night after night.  That's not a possibility but we are doing the best that we can," said Alves.

The city's Emergency Management Director makes the decision on whether or not to open the overflow shelter.

Members of the network urged advocates to work with them, with the ultimate goal being to create more affordable housing programs in the city.

They also say the homeless have to accept some responsibility as well. More than 300 people have entered the overflow shelter since Jan. 5th.  That breaks down to about 70 different people. All of them have been offered services, from detox to counseling. Officials say about 14 people. or about 20% have accepted.

Advocate Peter Costa says he will bring the issue to the City Council next month.

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