Nearly 800 people turned away from family shelter, nonprofit plans for bigger space

Local News

ALTOONA, Pa. (WTAJ) — Family Services in Altoona continues to work towards a new family shelter that could hold more than double its current capacity.

The current shelter on 8th Avenue has 16 beds. Last year, Family Services housed 202 people, but turned away 788 others because they don’t have enough beds or space

“They have to be truly homeless to be able to come into the shelter, but even then we can’t accommodate everyone that’s truly homeless,” Lisa Hann, Director of Family Services said.

According to Hann, that’s the main problem they’re facing with the current conditions of the family shelter.

“Being in such close quarters, in a small, 16-room house, it makes it difficult to offer the resources there that you want to offer to people,” she said.

Now, the nonprofit owns the old Drenning Truck Company building on 23rd Street and Branch Avenue and plans to turn that into a 35-bed shelter, including six two-bedroom apartments on the second floor.

“It’s very disheartening and very frustrating to have to turn away, especially families. You don’t want to turn away anyone, but when you have families with children that you can’t accommodate…and we don’t always have a resource for them to turn to,” Hann said.

She added she hopes the new space can help more folks in the community get back on their feet.

“The stigma of homelessness…We know that anyone could become homeless given the right situations or the wrong situations,” she said.

Family Services has the floor plan for the property finished. They’re still waiting for more funding for the project. Crews said the new shelter should be finished in 2 years, but Hann hopes it can be done earlier.

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