CHUM to raise money for emergency housingFaced with a growing number of families who are homeless, CHUM announced a capital campaign Friday to raise money for more emergency housing.
By: Steve Kuchera, Duluth News Tribune
Faced with a growing number of families who are homeless, CHUM announced a capital campaign Friday to raise money for more emergency housing.
The goal of “HOME Begins: The Campaign for Emergency Family Shelter” is to raise $1.4 million, said CHUM Executive Director Jim Soderberg.
Much of the money raised will go toward the expenses of a six-unit family shelter at the planned Hillside Apartments building.
“We currently have a family shelter that can house four families,” Soderberg said. “We always have more than four families. We have 40 families a year going through there.”
And those are just more than half of the families seeking shelter last year, when CHUM found shelter for 75 families. The families spent an average of six weeks in shelter.
The 75 homeless families helped last year was the highest number CHUM had ever sheltered. The year before, CHUM helped about 62 families.
“The demand has been growing dramatically,” Soderberg said. “Fortunately, it’s leveling off now; that is the good news.”
CHUM already has raised about $300,000 for the new homeless family shelter. Once it is built, the plan is to close the existing shelter, which is expensive to operate and maintain.
The family shelter is part of the $11.2 million Hillside Apartments planned for the upper side of Fourth Street between First and Second avenues west, the current site of Hillside Laundry.
In addition to the six units of emergency housing, the complex will have 44 units designated as low-income for people who have experienced chronic homelessness.
The project is aimed at helping families, especially those with children, end a cycle of homelessness. Supporters believe the concept of joining housing with services, and of trying to keep families in stable housing, might help keep children in school so they can thrive and break the cycle of poverty.
“We are really hoping to help families with a history of homelessness, with a real focus on serving children,” Soderberg said. “We are now working with parents who were in the shelter as children.”
Every year, CHUM provides basic housing services to more than 1,000 people in need of emergency shelter.
The number of homeless people reported in St. Louis County is growing, according to findings from Wilder Research’s triennial statewide homelessness study. The foundation found 363 homeless people in 2006, 443 in 2009 and 752 in 2012.
The 2012 numbers were based on reports from Oct. 25; they included 392 people in shelters and 360 homeless people who were not in shelters that day.
Hillside Apartment supporters hope to begin demolition of dilapidated buildings on the property in the next few weeks, with construction expected by August. The complex will be operated by the nonprofit Center City Housing Corp.