"Saving Grace" Shelter Project 2010
4 years ago a group was formed called the Lycoming County Family Housing Alliance which is made up of the professional staff from 22 human service and social service organizations to address the homeless needs of individuals, families and veterans of our city and county. Rosann Pelleschi, Lycoming County's United Ways Director of Funds Distribution and Community Building spear-heads the alliance and in a collaborative effort have opened Liberty House at the YWCA, a women's shelter, and Journey House, owned by the New Covenant United Church of Christ and managed by the Williamsport Salvation Army. Journey House is an intensive 1-2 year program for families seeking self-sufficiency.
The Williamsport American Rescue Workers has operated a men's shelter program for now over 75 years and currently has a capacity for 47 men.
However, there is nowhere for a family to go in the emergency event of homelessness. If there is bed-space available in existing shelters the family unit must be divided up. Existing shelters continue to be full to capacity. Motels are full with gas industry related workers. Local Motel/Hotel rates have increased to make that option non-existent in an emergency.
In a Homeless Tracking Report just received in my email yesterday there were a reported number of 12 homeless households or families in July 2010, 24 families in August, and 41 in September. Contributing factors to homeless households were divorce, loss of job, code violations, court ordered evictions, health, and other miscellaneous issues. The status of homelessness means you are either living in your car, living in a shelter, living on the street, living with others or in a place not defined as your own.
For over 2 years, the Housing Alliance, of which the American Rescue Workers is a partner, has spent countless hours pursuing avenues and opportunities for a property that could be considered an emergency shelter to alleviate the growing "invisible homeless" individuals, families and veterans of our community.
In July 2009 the Grace Street United Methodist Church merged their congregation and property with the Pine Street United Methodist Church. In the months that followed, the leadership of the Pine Street UMC and Methodist conference offered the church building to the Lycoming County Family Housing Alliance as a family shelter. In July 2010, the property was deeded to the American Rescue Workers who are the lead agency in the shelter project, with now over 75 years in capacity and relevant experience of operating successful programs for addressing homelessness.
Renovations began immediately as a result of receiving Lycoming County Act 137 funds through the Lycoming County Commissioners office. Saving Grace Shelter will be a 24-bed shelter designed for individuals, families and veterans in a homeless crisis - a safe haven providing 14 days of lodging. There will be no kitchen or cooking facility at Saving Grace; however, meal vouchers for residents will be issued for them to take their meals at neighboring soup kitchens such as St. Anthony's, SoJourners Truth, Antioch Church and the American Rescue Workers. Renovations will include the installation of appropriate and separate shower and bathroom facilities, a kitchenette with a sink, microwave, refrigerator, and stovetop heating units, laundry facilities and separate sleeping quarters. There will be a men's unit and women and children's unit. An appropriate video security system will monitor common areas and activities. Lycoming Neighborhood Development Corporation is a non-profit organization is overseeing and managing the shelter renovations on a voluntary basis; relying on work crews of the Lycoming County Pre-Release Center and the PA College of Technology for it rehabilitation work. LNDC has certified construction supervisors to oversee the crews and the work to make sure it is in compliance with the City Codes requirements. Anthony Visco from Visco Architects has provided the plans for the renovations.
Admittance to the shelter will be on a referral basis. The shelter will be open from 4 PM in the evenings until 9 AM the following morning and closed during the day. Shelter residents will be assigned a case manager from their referring agency within 48 hours of their arrival to work with them on a daily basis to secure permanent housing within the 14 day time frame.
In-Kind Support has been pledged by numerous organizations, churches and businesses such as the following but is not limited to:
- Lycoming County Family Housing Alliance
- Lycoming County United Way
- Lycoming Neighborhood Development Corporation
- Lycoming County Commissioners
- Lycoming County Pre-Release Center
- PA College of Technology
- Anthony Visco, Jr., Visco Architects
- Pine Street United Methodist Church
- Susquehanna Health System, Divine Providence Hospital Convent
- St. Anthony's Center
- Antioch Church
- Aaron Weber, Eagle Scout Project
- Transitional Living Center
- West Branch Drug & Alcohol Abuse Commission
- Crossroads Counseling, Inc.
- ROAD to Freedom
- STEP, Inc.
- Greater Lycoming Habitat for Humanity
- Lycoming - Clinton Joinder Board
- Lycoming Children and Youth Services
- Lycoming County Assistance Office
- Fairfield Inn
- Service First Credit Union Management Team
External Support has been sought through the following programs…..
- PA Emergency Shelter Grant
- Lycoming County Commissioners Act 137 Funds
- PA Homeless Assistance Program Funds
- Federal Emergency Food & Shelter Program
- Per Diem bed nights by referring agencies
- Contributions from Churches
- Williamsport Lycoming Community Foundation
- Harry Plankenhorn Foundation, Inc.
- Saltsgiver Family Foundation, Inc.
- Abram M. & Dorothy M. Snyder Foundation, Inc.
The "Saving Grace" Shelter Project 2010 will have the capability of providing 8,760 bed nights of lodging annually.
Projected opening date is December 1
Immediate needs are as follows:
- 6 Infant Cribs with mattresses
- 36 Wool Blankets
- Skilled Laborers/Carpenters/Painters
- Clean up Crews
- Supporting Funds
|"Saving Grace" Shelter
324 Campbell Street
Williamsport, PA 17701