In an effort to better serve the community, a local daytime drop-in center will be closing its doors to make way for a 24-hour homeless shelter.
Krista Kiger, executive director of Community Missions, said the 8th St. Drop In Center has been acting as a starting point for many homeless in the community to find help.
“The 8th St. Drop In Center has been a daytime center for folks who have been experiencing homelessness to come and access a variety of services,” Kiger said. “They can get kind of into the system and begin to request help from case managers from a variety of social service agencies.”
The center has provided a place to cool off, shower, find job postings, talk to case workers and more for several years, but come Friday, Aug. 16, it will be closing its doors. In its place, those associated with the Crossing plan to create a 24-hour shelter they hope will better serve the homeless and the neighborhood surrounding them.
“The concerns of the neighborhood are also being addressed in a serious way through these neighborhood watch meetings that have been happening the past few weeks,” Kiger said. “There are plans for added security, added ways to make sure that folks are receiving the services (and) staying on site.”
The concern for safety was echoed by Pat Dillon, chief government and community relations officer with Mosaic Life Care, which is helping oversee the project funded by the hospital.
“The folks that are staying there, they’re going to be held accountable in this shelter for their actions,” Dillon said. “We want to help them there and they’re welcome, but if they’re not going to play by the rules for the shelter, for the neighborhood or for those around it, they’re going to have to move on.”
Dillon said the hospital chose to become involved in helping those in the homeless community after a community assessment found the top needs affecting that population.
“After the most recent assessment, the top three things that came up were mental health, substance abuse and access to care for those in need in poverty,” Dillon said. “That is a big part of what was down there; it all relates and it currently is kind of a tough issue for the city and community.”
While the Crossing will be running the 24-hour shelter, several social service agencies are planning to use the shelter as a place to reach the homeless community.
“It’s a lot of wraparound services that will help the folks not only be fed and sheltered, but move on with a plan of how to be productive again,” Dillon said. “We don’t want to just have them taken care of today, we want them to be able to move forward to be productive for those who want to.”
That 24-hour shelter is set to open sometime near early October, but in the meantime the local Homeless Coalition is working to figure out how to continue providing services for the homeless community.
“There’s always a lot of moving parts with helping people find sustainable housing, no matter where they’re coming from,” Kiger said. “Whether they’re chronically homeless or situationally homeless, whether they’re coming out of prison and needing to find a reentry program, those are all part of the big picture.”
Kiger said that while Community Missions is closing the 8th St. Drop In Center, the organization will continue having case managers go out into the streets to reach out to the homeless. The Crossing also will continue to operate its nearby overnight shelter while the 24-hour shelter is in the works.