JEFFERSON CITY – After 20 years, the Jefferson City Salvation Army is asking for more funding from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to help remodel their shelter.
The shelter is asking for $3.5 million from both the city and county, both of which will receive funding.
The Salvation Amy said she began the campaign after the 2019 Jefferson City tornado. And after the pandemic’s eviction moratorium ended last year, the shelter saw even more people needed a place to stay.
“One of the things we’ve noticed is that we’re seeing a lot more families,” said Justin Windell, corps officer for the Jefferson City Salvation Army. “So we’re trying to switch.”
The shelter is trying to convert one side of the shelter into family rooms so that people with children can have some privacy and be able to come and go from the shelter whenever they want.
It also aims to add more cribs to the shelter. At the moment, the shelter operates seven to 15 short-term guest beds each night, and the long-term shelter is full.
“By adding these additional rooms, we could fit up to 20 family members right here on this family-of-five side of the building,” said Brian Vogeler, director of The Jefferson City Salvation Army. “Then we could now add six more beds on the other side.”
The shelter said most people come and ask for rooms at the end of the month when people are being evicted from their homes.
“In March, six people from the evictions came here on March 1,” Vogeler said. “In April we had five people from evictions. We’ve had families of evictions and so we’re really just trying to be proactive and stay ahead of the curve and make sure we have a facility that would be able to accommodate everyone, not just now but in the future .”
As of January 2020, homelessness affected an estimated 6,527 people in Missouri, according to the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness.
As the number of people in need of protection grows, The Salvation Army seeks to meet those needs.
The physical space and layout of the shelter will remain the same, but with ARPA funding, the shelter could remodel spaces.
At the moment, the pantry is working out of cupboards, from which volunteers take the groceries and distribute them to those in need. The funds could allow the shelter’s basement pantry to open up a “shopping experience” so those in need could get groceries for themselves.
“It allows for privacy,” Windell said. “It allows them to have a little more separation and more comfort when they come in and get services.”
The shelter hopes the funds will help meet the specific needs of the Jefferson City and Cole County area.
The application for ARPA funds just came out. There are two separate processes from the county and city, so the shelter is hoping to receive funding from both.
The shelter has already drawn up the plans, and if it doesn’t get the funds, it will launch a capital campaign to raise the funds.