Springfield, Interfaith team up to reopen homeless shelters

Interfaith Hospitality Network closed both of its congregant shelters in Clark County in March 2020 due to pandemic related safety concerns. Now the nonprofit is looking to do renovations that would bring those facilities back online. Hasan Karim/Staff

caption arrowCaption
Interfaith Hospitality Network closed both of its congregant shelters in Clark County in March 2020 due to pandemic related safety concerns. Now the nonprofit is looking to do renovations that would bring those facilities back online. Hasan Karim/Staff

Interfaith Hospitality Network is in the process of reopening two of its congregant shelters, as Clark County continues to grapple with an uptick in homelessness amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The city of Springfield approved $185,000 in November to help fund the renovation project. City officials are also working to allocate additional funding to address homelessness and an affordable housing shortage.

Interfaith shuttered both shelters — Norms Place and Hartley House — shortly after COVID-19 became a pandemic in March 2020. Therefore, IHN is working to ensure there are COVID protocols in place when the shelters reopen, which could be before the winter of 2022, officials said.

Upgrades will include a HVAC system that will allow for better air filtration. Office areas will also be upgraded to allow for social distancing. In addition, a new bathroom with showers will be installed in one of the buildings.

The facilities were the primary source of emergency shelter in the city and county before the pandemic. They closed at a time as local homeless numbers began to skyrocket and the number of families seeking shelter dramatically increased due to the economic impacts brought on by the pandemic.

Explore$26.5M project to clean up ‘forever chemicals’ at Wright-Patterson

Since the shelters closed, the city of Springfield, the county and Interfaith have mainly relied on non-congregant forms of emergency shelter such as hotel and motel rooms. However, Interfaith and city officials said that those alternatives are not sustainable.

That is especially the case as homelessness continues to surpass pre-pandemic levels. A waiting list for emergency shelter was created last year for the first time in more than a decade, and the average stay for someone utilizing those services increased during the pandemic.

Currently more than 300 individuals are being assisted through Interfaith in non-congregant shelters, and there is still a waiting list, said Stephen Thompson, the Community Development Deputy Director for the city of Springfield.

Thompson said they hope to get the two congregant shelters back online as soon as possible. When they open, both shelters will have a capacity of a combined 50 people, he said.

“(Interfaith) and (the Clark County Combined Health District) will work together to determine the best, and most COVID respecting number of individuals who can be sheltered at Norms and Hartley once renovations are complete.” Thompson said.

ExploreFake prescription drugs containing deadly substances reported in Ohio

Springfield city commissioners approved an ordinance last month that would allow the city manger to enter into an agreement with Interfaith to provide money for necessary renovations for an amount not to exceed $185,000.

The city is also currently working through various federal processes to determine if they can move forward with awarding a $2 million grant for a non-congregate facility in the city.

The goal is to team up with a nonprofit that would be in charge of those renovations as the city looks at way to create more emergency shelter as well as permanent housing solutions.

“We continue to explore all options to assist our community in the displaced housing crisis,” Thompson said.

About the Author