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Homeless shelter nearly finished

Family Services’ new shelter for homeless people is nearly complete.

Construction on the $4 million, 37-bed project could be done by mid-September, so the facility could open in early October, according to Family Services Executive Director Lisa Hann.

“We really want to get it done,” Hann said Friday. “Especially before the cold weather.”

A $51,000 allocation of Community Development Block Grant money authorized Thursday evening by the Logan Township supervisors will help, given price increases and change orders that have occurred, Hann said.

The cost of some supplies needed for the work increased by a third in recent times, Hann said.

When construction on the building at 23rd Street and North Branch Avenue began in July 2021, the cost estimate was $3.2 million.

Still to be installed are flooring, doors and cabinets, Hann said.

Workers hope to turn on the air conditioning next week, so that controlled humidity will lead to less movement in the wood, she said.

The project includes six apartments for people with low-to-moderate incomes.

Family Services hopes to obtain Section 8 subsidy vouchers for at least some of those, Hann said.

The agency at one point considered postponing build-out on the apartments, to ease fundraising efforts, but discovered that grant requirements prohibited that, because “it was one whole project,” she said.

The $51,000 in CDBG funding allocated by Logan was unspent from a $58,000 agency program to help area residents pay bills they otherwise couldn’t due to COVID-19.

The program used only $7,000 of that money.

There was an end-of-October deadline for spending the funds.

The state gave its blessing for the township to redirect the money to the homeless shelter project.

In addition to the $51,000 from Logan Township, Family Services has received $750,000 for the project from the Federal Home Loan Bank, $201,000 from the Blair County Affordable Housing Trust Fund; $130,000 from Blair Health Choices, a Medicaid contractor; $754,000 from city Community Development Block Grant funds; $204,000 from county CDBG funds; $106,000 from county Emergency Shelter Grant funds; $5,000 from the Federal Home Loan Bank; $86,000 from Family Services’ capital campaign; $75,000 from the county’s share of Pennsylvania Housing Affordability and Rehabilitation Enhancement Fund money; $200,000 from the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency and $50,000 from Reliance Bank, Hann said previously.

Family Services recently turned its attention to looking for money to pay for shelter operations, Hann said.

It costs between $40 and $50 a day per person to house homeless people in the agency’s current 16-bed shelter, Hann said.

The current shelter has more than twice as many beds, so there will be more occupants, and the cost per person may be higher, due to the additional facilities, which include an elevator, she said.

Utility costs have also risen, Hann noted.

Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 814-949-7038.

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