A new homeless shelter and transitional housing apartments on East Empire Street are expected to open in the fall and provide a new opportunity for residents to stabilize their lives.
The $2.7 million building will provide an emergency shelter on its ground floor and 12 apartments for transitional housing, said Laurie Knutson, executive director of The Bridge, the nonprofit that will operate the shelter and housing.
The Bridge’s new building had been expected to be finished at the end of July, but wet winter delayed the project a few months, she said.
It is now planned to be complete in mid-September, before the emergency shelter portion of the building opens for winter in October.
“That’s absolutely on time for us,” Knutson said.
The new 11,014-square-foot building was needed because Montezuma County commissioners decided to sell the justice center that previously housed the shelter. Over the winter, Grace Fellowship Evangelical Free Church provided a temporary shelter. The space in the church worked well, but presented a challenge because it lacked commercial kitchen and laundry facilities, Knutson said.
“I so appreciate the volunteers who carried over 700 pounds to the laundry mats and back,” Knutson said. Sheets, towels and blankets made up the bulk of the loads.
Shelter staff members are eagerly looking toward the opening of the new building, she said.
Combining an emergency shelter and transitional housing is a new model for The Bridge and an unusual approach in general, Knutson said. As result of the expansion of services, the nonprofit will shorten its name to The Bridge from the The Bridge Emergency Shelter.
The facility is the first of its kind in Colorado to include a shelter, a day labor center and transitional housing under one roof.
“It’s a very bold move on the part of The Bridge to do this project,” she said.
Transitional housing will help improve the physical and mental health of residents and relieve the anxiety residents face when they don’t have a place to spend the night, she said. Housing stability will allow residents to get jobs and move into permanent housing, she said.
Rents from housing also will provide income for the shelter to pay off the building’s low-interest $762,000 loan. Grants paid for much of the construction project, and rental income will help pay off the $22,000 annual loan payments.
The shelter’s waitlist for housing will open in August, Knutson said.
Apartments will house 27 people, who will have the opportunity to stay for about two years, she said.
The small apartments will be leased for less than $200 per month, she said. Two residents will share a 275-square-foot, one-bedroom unit, said Stephen Gray, superintendent for WCA Construction.
A community room on the second floor is designed to give residents an open space, important for residents who have lived on the street, Knutson said.
The emergency shelter on the ground floor will house up to 41 people and will provide separate areas for those who are sober and those who are intoxicated, she said. It will also have a dedicated entrance for emergency services, such as police and EMTs, she said.
The Bridge plans to staff the building with existing employees, but the nonprofit might make changes depending on the needs that arise, she said.
“We are just going to learn so much as we go,” she said.
firstname.lastname@example.orgThis story was updated to correct the full cost of the The Bridge’s new building and the spelling of Stephen Gray’s name.