An independent news publication of
United Way of Lancaster County


Homelessness services hub, shelter to seek zoning relief

Otterbein United Methodist Church, left, and 132-34 S. Prince St. (Photos: Tim Stuhldreher)

The homelessness services hub planned at 132-134 S. Prince St. in Lancaster and the emergency low-barrier shelter at Otterbein United Methodist Church, 20 E. Clay St., are both scheduled to come before the city Zoning Hearing Board next month.

The Lancaster County Redevelopment Authority has submitted applications for both properties to the board for its meeting at 4 p.m. Monday, Oct. 23, Lancaster County Redevelopment Authority Executive Director Justin Eby said.

The two sites are being put into service to expand capacity in response to the local increase in homelessness and housing insecurity. They are a joint venture of the authority, the Lancaster County Homelessness Coalition and city government.

The hub and shelter would both incorporate uses that are not permitted “by right” in the residential zoning districts where they are located. That means that the zoning board must vote to approve them before they can move forward.

The South Prince Street hub is seeking a “special exception” for a community center and a use variance allowing it to have 23 housing units. Normally, no more than six units would be allowed, and they would require a special exception.

The hub is also seeking a variance so that some of the units can be slightly smaller than the minimums in the city’s zoning code.

The shelter at the Otterbein church, meanwhile, requires a use variance.

To have a variance approved, applicants must demonstrate that their property has characteristics that would prevent their project from moving forward without it, and that granting it won’t adversely affect the neighborhood or public welfare.

The authority and its partners plan to open the shelter by Dec. 1 and operate it through April 2026. They are looking to open the South Prince Street hub in fall 2024.