Homeless shelter making strides, changes

Plenty of changes are under way for the future of Homeward Bound, Mesa County’s homeless shelter.

After a shift in leadership and officials nearly purchasing a new building last year, the nonprofit agency is taking a step back to fully address homeless needs.

Currently, the homeless shelter is seeking land to build a facility to house homeless families and single women. A new facility will be better connected with community services to help homeless people, officials said.

After a new building is constructed, the existing shelter, 2853 North Ave., will house single men, according to Executive Director Douglas Karl.

“We’re in the process of trying to identify potential sites,” Karl said.

Last month, Grand Junction City Council denied ratifying 2012 federal Community Development Block Grant funds to Homeward Bound after the homeless shelter switched gears. The nearly $110,000 in funds initially were awarded to cover costs to purchase a new building. The agency was under contract to purchase the former Grand Valley Power building, 2727 Grand Ave., but retracted its offer. Yet, after homeless shelter officials reversed on the idea, they requested councilors allow them to use the money for a necessary remodel to the North Avenue facility. Councilors denied the request on the grounds the money wouldn’t be used for its intended purpose, a scenario which might be unfair to other grant applicants.

Homeward Bound officials are expected to meet with councilors in a meeting today to discuss their new plans, Karl said.

Karl said while it would be ideal for the homeless shelter to be able to utilize the 2012 grant funds for a future land purchase, the agency has access to other possible state and federal grants. It also will be looking to a fundraising campaign.

“Obviously we’d like to retain it. It is a significant piece,” he said of the grant. “But if those funds are not provided to us, we are not going to deter from the plan.”

Karl said the agency will apply for block grants next year.Homeward Bound has received one grant and is in the process of securing another to receive funds to complete the remodel at the shelter, Karl said.

The aging, well-used facility that sometimes houses more than 100 people a night is in need of new bathrooms, a kitchen and more office space. Restrooms are not compatible for people with disabilities, and the shelter sometimes houses guests who arrive in wheelchairs, Karl said.


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