The approval by Gloucester's Zoning Board of Appeals of Action Inc.'s bid to retain the eight beds added last December to serve a growing population of homeless is certainly justified.
While taking new steps to provide shelter for those who need it, Action officials have also, by most counts, taken very logical steps to address the concerns of neighbors as well.
By implementing a "saved bed" system for more temporary residents participating in a "moving on" program, Action has greatly eased the need for the homeless to line up on the Main Street sidewalk for shelter on a first-come, first-served basis as in the past. And Action shelter staffers have conducted regular meetings with neighbors to address concerns.
At the same time, however, the ZBA was also wise to extend the expansion from 26 beds to 34 for just a year. That means the shelter will have to show the city and neighbors that it's maintaining the changes that have proven effective to date — and that should be a good thing for the city, for neighbors and the agency itself.
Despite optimistic state job figures — which were proven inflated two months ago — there is no sign that the need for serving those who are homeless or need other services is going to diminish soon.
The board is right to essentially call for an annual review of Action's and the community's services, issues and needs.