Community Action Partnership of Greater St. Joseph has announced a plan to become the primary financial backer of the Crossing’s emergency shelter.
The news comes after Mosaic Life Care announced it would be pulling funding of more than $800,000 in annual contributions at the end of June to the facility that serves the homeless community.
Without CAP finding an estimated $267,000 from the CARES Act, the Crossing would have to ask its guests to head outdoors and fend for themselves come August.
CAP and the Crossing have been working together through Larry Stewart, a community health worker, and the day labor program, which pays homeless individuals minimum wage for various projects, including beautification.
But the deal, which was discussed at a CAP board meeting Tuesday night, isn’t done yet.
“(The CARES Act) is a block grant, so it goes through the Department of Social Services and then onto the community action agency,” said Whitney Lanning, executive director at CAP. “So the holdup is at the state level.”
The short answer is the money hasn’t arrived yet, and there’s no definitive answer on when it will.
Furthermore, the deal is not complete. To make it work, CAP needs collaboration from other organizations in town that specialize in caring for the homeless.
The Crossing’s board will be meeting to discuss the plan, according to the Crossing’s owner, Danny Gach.
“We’re not just sitting on the sidelines, we’re looking at the options to move forward,” Gach said. “We’re in talks with (CAP) and we feel like it would be a good thing to get it accomplished.”
CAP wants to manage the shelter by making cots available between 7 p.m. and 8 a.m. During the day, CAP’s community health workers would partner with organizations like Family Guidance and Northwest Health Services to move individuals in the direction of self-sufficiency.
There are about 20 individuals currently living at the Crossing, but the shelter has the capacity to house more than 60. In years past, numbers have grown exponentially during the winter months.
Lunch is provided by the Open Door Food Kitchen, and dinner continues to be provided by Mosaic through its buffet.
There is a timeline behind the CARES Act. Funds are available only for two years, which means in 2022 a new monetary resource will need to be discovered to keep the shelter open.
CAP is not dedicating all of the money it receives to the Crossing. Some will go towardssocial work support for the St. Joseph Police Department. CAP also plans to specifically move $15,000 to the Social Welfare Board for its patient relief fund.
The CAP board also said its Tiny Homes project is moving forward. It is modeled after the success Eden Village has seen in Springfield, Missouri.
Chronically homeless individuals will be able to apply for a small home that is worth an estimated $30,000. CAP would act as the landlord. The goal is to have six houses built by this fall, but because of complications caused by the pandemic, spring may be more likely.
The homes would be located near Easton Road on a plot of land located at the southern edge of St. Joseph that could hold more than 40 tiny homes.
Megan Stickley weighed in on CAP’s initiatives. She became the new board president after Doug Walters recently resigned. She is also Buchanan County’s public administrator.
“The tiny homes we’ve talked about for a long time,” Stickley said. “And the shelter, of course, is another thing that’s needed in our community, so I’m proud that CAP has stepped up to help fill that need.”