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Salvation Army to break ground on $10m family shelter downtown


Salvation Army to break ground on $10m family shelter downtown



Earlier this month, the Salvation Army of Greater Cleveland announced a $35 million capital campaign in part to celebrate the organization's 150th anniversary.
 
Thus far, the Army has raised more than $24 million of its goal, which includes $10 million for the new Zelma George Emergency Family Shelter for homeless families and adult human trafficking victims. Groundbreaking is slated to begin by year's end at the site of the former Mad Hatter building downtown, which the organization purchased last year and demolished. The long-abandoned building was adjacent to the Army's existing Harbor Light facility at 1710 Prospect Avenue.
 
"There are several programs in that facility," says Major Lurlene-Kay M. Johnson,
divisional secretary for the Salvation Army of Greater Cleveland, referring to Harbor Light. "We have the family shelter. That is 110 beds. We also have homeless men there," she says, noting that the facility has a medically supervised detox program.
 
Harbor Light also houses 150 clients that are in a corrections program.
 
"They spend six months with us as kind of a halfway house," says Johnson. "In some cases, it's in lieu of them going to jail. If they've been incarcerated for many years they'll spend the last six months with us to allow them time to get a job and find a place to live."
 
That diversity of service is one of the main reasons the Army is building a new facility.
 
"We have mixed populations, so right now you have children and mothers coming through the same security system that everybody else has to go through," says Johnson, adding that the security portal is not very kid friendly.
 
Having the new shelter adjacent to Harbor Light has other advantages. The two buildings will be connected, allowing both to utilize the existing industrial kitchen, which serves 1,200 meals a day. The new shelter and Harbor Light will also share staffing. Both sharing measures constitute significant financial savings. Furthermore, the land on which the shelter will be built is already zoned for shelter use, a designation that is difficult to come by.
 
The Welty Building Company, headquartered in Akron, is the contractor on the project. Perspectus Architecture of Shaker Square designed the two-story, 29,000-square-foot facility, which will feature 35 individual family units and an apartment-style area for six adult human trafficking victims. Construction is scheduled for completion within 18 months.
 
Above and beyond those brick and mortar statistics, however, the new Zelma George Emergency Family Shelter offers something that is difficult to measure.
 
"When people come in, they are residents," says Johnson. "They stay with us—unless they leave on their own accord—until they have permanent housing. They don't have to come in each day, which gives them continuity. They have a place where they belong."
 
The new facility will include a green space and playground for the children who stay at the shelter. Services also include transportation to the school systems the kids came from to maintain consistency in that aspect of their lives.
 
"We're looking for stability," says Johnson, adding that the Army looks forward to having a shelter that is designed specifically for children and families. "We really want the family to do well and we really want their lives to be disrupted as little as possible."

Read more articles by Erin O'Brien.

Erin O'Brien's eclectic features and essays have appeared in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and others. The sixth generation northeast Ohioan is also author of The Irish Hungarian Guide to the Domestic Arts. Visit erinobrien.us for complete profile information.
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