Efforts are underway to more than double the size of the homeless shelter in one area city. Members of a shelter task force gathered Thursday in Altoona.
Their mission—replace the current 16- bed homeless shelter in the city, with a 35-unit building and six apartments.
You may not notice the homeless in our region, but they’re here, according to the operator of the current homeless shelter.
“By the grace of God, go any number of us, if we lot our job or our paycheck, but there are always going to be those folks who don’t have the skills or the coping mechanisms to keep their heads above water. We need to help those people,” says Family Services Inc. Director Lisa Hann.
According to Hann, over the past four years their shelter has housed 875 people–all residents of Blair County–and turned away more than 500 due to a lack of beds.
The shelter task force is now working to buy and renovate a building for a new larger shelter. Members already have their eyes on a property for the $2.5 million project–the former Drenning Trucking Company building on 23rd Street and Branch Avenue in Altoona
Hann says the basic goal at the new location will be the same as it is at the current shelter–to help residents get back into a place in society where they will be productive.
She explains, “We set a stay up for 30 days, and we evaluate that at the 30 day mark, prior to that, are they making progress, have they had job interviews, did they update their resume, do they have a prospect for housing, and we assist them in all of those things.”
The task force is counting on federal and state grants along with financial support from the community to help fund the new shelter project.