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Franklin County homeless shelter seeks money

February 16, 2001

Franklin County homeless shelter seeks money



By STACEY DANZUSO / Staff Writer, Chambersburg


CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The Franklin County homeless shelter hopes a grant will keep the downtown facility staffed and allow for building improvements.

At a public hearing Tuesday, the South Central Community Action Programs Inc. board, which sponsors the shelter, said it will request $94,000 from the Homeless Emergency Shelter Grant Program to fund staff positions, homeless-prevention efforts and building improvements.

"The building used to be a store, so it has large glass windows we want to remove," said Jean Odom, executive director of SCCAP. "We want to remove those to make it more secure for the staff and people we serve."

The windows will be replaced with smaller, more energy-efficient windows, she said.

The center, at 223 S. Main St., opened in 1986 and has 24 beds.

SCCAP has relied on the grants for at least three years to help keep the shelter running, Odom said.

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"They've taken care of essential services and rehabilitation of the facility to make sure it is safe and sanitary," she said.

The breakdown of this year's request includes: $2,350 for administration of the grant; $28,200 for program coordinator and case manager salaries; $39,950 for operations, which includes the salaries of direct-care workers and operating costs; $13,500 for rehabilitation, including the replacement of the front window, updating the heating system and lighting and the addition of a security system and $10,000 for homeless prevention.

Odom said the next step is to turn the grant proposal over to Franklin County Human Services, who will forward it to the Franklin County Commissioners.

It is up to the commissioners to submit the proposal to the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, which administers the grants with funds from the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Odom said she hopes to receive grant money by the start of the next fiscal year, which is July 1.

The shelter has three years to use the grant, but Odom said the money is usually spent within the first year.

At the hearing, board members also focused on difficulties they face in accurately identifying the number of homeless in Franklin County.

"It's hard to know where people hang out. You never know where people choose to go," Odom said.

Many choose to stay away from the shelter for personal reasons.

"The level of regimentation at the homeless shelter is something some may not want to follow," said John Kulp, a board member.

Odom said she would like to start a single-room occupancy facility as transitional housing in the borough.

She suggested that after people finish the maximum 30-day stay at the Franklin County Shelter for the Homeless, they move to single rooms with community kitchens and low rent for up to a year to get back on their feet.

"If people had a year to regroup ... You never get homeless in a month," Odom said.

Others supported the suggestion, but Odom said finding the funding for such an endeavor would be a huge hurdle.

The shelter serves an average of 350 people a year and is poised to help up to 400 people by the end of this fiscal year.

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