Shelter for homeless families to break ground by October

Designs for a new three-story family shelter to share space at the site of Pathways Village, 564 29 Road, are displayed by Megan Kemmis, from left, and Jade Joyce, a staff member and the executive director at HomewardBound of the Grand Valley homeless shelter, and board chairman Bill Wade. HomewardBound shelter officials estimate they are $1 million away from their fundraising goal of $3.2 million to complete the first two levels of the 6,000-square-foot facility.



What happens if you’re hospitalized but you don’t have a home? Where exactly do you go to recover?
It’s not uncommon for recently hospitalized homeless individuals to seek shelter at HomewardBound of the Grand Valley homeless shelter.
Yet sharing space with more than 100 other people probably isn’t the best place for anyone to regain health. It also creates the potential to get other people sick.
By creating a new shelter, HomewardBound aims to solve this problem, as well as other issues surrounding homelessness.
Plans for a $3.2 million facility slated near the site of Pathways Village, 564 29 Road, will feature four beds for respite care.
Creating a family shelter will take a load off the current shelter at 2853 North Ave., allowing it to discontinue its winter overflow program, officials said.
For years, the shelter has attracted so many clients during the winter months that churches have opened their doors, allowing single men to sleep inside them. 
The agency is about $1 million shy of its fundraising goal, said HomewardBound Chairman Bill Wade.
Workers plan to break ground on the 6,000-square-foot, three-story building by October, he said. The third floor will be “roughed in” and finished off when funds allow, Wade said.
While providing emergency shelter, the family center also is designed with community and meeting spaces that will be used to teach life skills, Wade said. The goal is to help people alter their lifestyles, so they can find permanent housing options, he said.
“We’re going from being the last resort to getting people going up and out,” Wade said. “People have considered HomewardBound a bed and a meal. Now we’re trying to give people a dignified way out of homelessness.”
The shelter now houses about 100 people a night. About 20 individuals in families live apart from the general population at the shelter.
Executive Director Jade Joyce said the number of families seeking shelter will increase as the school year starts, an annual trend.
The average length of stay for families is 28 days, and individuals stay an average of 31 days. 
HomewardBound’s current policy includes a “dry” shelter in the summer months, meaning clients will be turned away if they have the smell of alcohol on their breath or are visibly under the influence of intoxicants.
It’s a “damp” shelter in the wintertime, meaning clients can blow up to 0.08 percent on a breath test and be accepted to stay for the night.
With the family shelter open, HomewardBound would be able to accept more individuals who are under the influence of intoxicants at its North Avenue location.
However, staff said they cannot become a quasi-detox center without some training.
“One of the things the city would like us to do is take people off the street that we can’t accommodate today,” Wade said.
Even accommodating people who are sick with an infectious condition is a challenge at the North Avenue shelter, Joyce said.
“I have to look families in the eye and say I can’t take your children because they have chickenpox,” Joyce said. “I have 130 people here, and I can’t have everybody with chickenpox or the flu.”
For information on plans for HomewardBound’s family shelter, visit homewardboundgv.org.


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