A new location for the city's only secularly run homeless shelter is expected to go online in the spring of 2012.
In the meantime, the city-loaned location on Phoenix Avenue -- pending city council approval in September -- will continue to offer emergency overnight shelter to men through the winter season, said Phebe Paine, chair of Flagstaff Shelter Services.
FSS closed escrow in late July on a property at 4155 Huntington Drive on the east side of the city, Paine said. The property was purchased for $860,000, with the $125,000 down payment provided by city Community Development Block Grant funding.
The mortgage payments will be made by FSS, Paine added.
"Opening the new shelter, we'll be able to accommodate more men during the winter to prevent people from dying from exposure," Paine said.
The new facility will undergo remodeling and renovation and will be open for overnight shelter beginning in spring 2012. The facility will hold between 50 and 55 men, and the goal will be to remain open to overnight services year-round, Paine said. Being open in the summer will help reduce the risk of wildfire to the community with homeless people camping in the woods in the city/forest interface.
Currently, the property on Phoenix Avenue, rented to FSS by the city for $1 a year, has a 32-bed capacity, with 10 of those devoted to longer-term transitional housing.
Last winter, bed nights increased 23 percent from the winter before with 7,177 bed nights, attributed primarily to the economic downturn, according to information released by FSS. The yearly budget has been set at about $350,000, including the "in-kind" donations from supporters like the city.
The shelter remains open for day services various hours and days throughout the week. Day services include job search help; computer, telephone and mail access; showers; laundry; food; and a health clinic. As many as 70 people visit the center in a day, according to FSS staff.
The new, larger facility will be able to handle the need in the city, Paine said. Nightly, the Phoenix Avenue shelter would experience overflow and would have to turn men away to the faith-based shelter -- Sunshine Rescue Mission -- in the city, or back out into the woods.
Because the new facility won't be ready until after the winter season, Paine said the city agreed to extend the contract for the Phoenix Avenue property another year -- pending approval by the Flagstaff City Council. If the council approves the lease extension, the shelter will open in mid-October for emergency overnight shelter.
Larry Hendricks can be reached at 556-2262 or email@example.com.
Flagstaff Shelter Services
Winter emergency overnight services
2008-2009 2009-2101 2010-2011
Unique individuals: 406 350 390
Bed nights: 6,088 5,810 7,176
-- Source: Flagstaff Shelter Services
Editor's note: This story has been corrected from its original version.