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Under the ordinance, churches would have to undergo fire and building inspections and qualify for an annual permit Converse All Star Lo Platform Sneaker White

City Manager Michael Beedie, who pushed for the change, said the city could not continue to ignore the code violations and potentially dangerous situations that are occurring at the shelters.

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Other shelter supporters worry the measure will discourage other congregations from opening their doors. They also object to the Converse All Star White Black Low Top Canvas Shoes

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City Councilwoman Joyce Gossom agreed, saying the new ordinance is written in general terms to help protect churches as well as the city.

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If given a final approval Jan. 28 by the Fort Walton Beach City Council, a new ordinance will require local churches and other facilities to qualify for annual permits before they offer overnight shelter.

Hauge said she and other volunteers are most concerned about the immediate need to keep people warm, not the potential problems that might arise inside the church building.

city involving itself in what they argue is, first and foremost, church ministry.

FORT WALTON BEACH Local churches serving as cold Converse All Star Black Leather Low Top

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He said St. Simon's will continue to operate its cold night shelter and comply with the new rules.

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Fitzhugh said he felt the city had acted with "a heavy hand."

"If we have to spend money to keep this ministry going, we will do that," Williams said. "The whole program is vital."

"When I heard the concerns I couldn't turn a blind eye to that," he said.

FORT WALTON BEACH Local churches serving as cold night shelters face an uncertain future as the city seeks to enforce tougher safety standards.

"From the city's point of view, we are here to enforce the code," he said. "We're going to work with (the churches) all the way through this."

"If they exceed their capacity and something happens, they are really vulnerable," she said. "We've been extremely lucky, extremely fortunate that nothing has happened thus far."

night shelters face an uncertain future as the city seeks to enforce tougher safety standards.

"I was a little caught off guard," said the Rev. Mark L. Fitzhugh of St. Simon's on the Sound Episcopal Church.

"Since day one, I have not regarded it as a program. It's a ministry," said Mary Hauge of St. Simon's on the Sound. "That piece of it is hard for me. This started on a very spiritual level."

Beedie said he tackled the issue because his predecessor failed to deal with the fire marshal's concerns about code violations.

"We want to be good citizens and partner with anyone who wants to take on homelessness," Fitzhugh said. "We are committed for the long haul."

Gossom said she voted for the ordinance because it will better prepare the city to deal with its long term goal of opening a permanent shelter and resource center for the homeless.

Safety is the city's priority, Beedie said.

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Although Fort Walton Beach has no plans to charge the churches for the shelter permits, the fire marshal and building officials could require them to make renovations or install new equipment to comply with safety and occupancy standards.

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The Rev. Cecil Williams of Gregg Chapel AME Church said he believes his building is in compliance but that the congregation is committed to providing cold night shelters.

"We can't allow them (homeless people) to sleep in the doorways," he said. "We can't allow them to sleep in the halls."

City Manager Michael Beedie, who pushed for the change, said the city could Converse All Star All Black High Tops not continue to ignore the code violations and potentially dangerous situations that are occurring at the shelters.

by Oct. 1 each year. City officials hope to have all of the churches permitted by the fall of 2014.

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If given a final approval Jan. 28 by the Fort Walton Beach City Council, a new ordinance will require local churches and other facilities to qualify for annual permits before they offer overnight shelter.

Hauge, Yvonne Franklin from First Presbyterian Church and a handful of other volunteers helped start the shelters about 12 years ago. Today, the shelters are hosted by St. Simon's, Gregg Chapel, First Presbyterian, Mary Esther United Methodist, Seventh Day Adventist, and First Christian churches. They rotate six nights a week, except Wednesdays, when temperatures dip below 40 degrees.

While the six churches that host shelters were involved in drafting the new regulations, some in the faith community are frustrated that the city is targeting such a vital service.

FWB may enforce tougher standards for cold night shelters DOCUMENT

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