“We identified this partner, we began working with them, we’ve done several walk-throughs and have come to this funding agreement,” said Springfield city manager Bryan Heck during the city commission’s regular meeting at the City Forum.
Springfield’s Sheltered Inc. was previously considered by the city as a nonprofit to oversee functions at the location.
“We are aware of some of the financial issues that Sheltered Inc. is facing,” Heck said. “Recognizing that, it would have not been prudent on our part to then add on an additional facility. We need to help them stabilize in what they’re doing and what they do well, and also look for additional providers and partners that can help provide additional capacity to the overall system.”
In February, the Clark County commission terminated a $700,000 subgrant agreement with the nonprofit Sheltered Inc., citing breach of contract.
Homefull works with unsheltered people to fill needs rooted in housing, health, food access, employment and more. It’s headquartered in Dayton, where it broke ground on a $50 million project last month.
Conversations between the city and nonprofit began a month and a half ago.
“We felt Homefull was that provider to come in and lend that support, that aid, that increased capacity that our community definitely needs,” Heck said.
Homefull will operate the Executive Inn, and ownership of the building will remain with the city. Work is still ahead in bringing the building online, and they city hopes to open it “as quickly as possible.”
Commissioners earlier this year approved $2.2 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) dollars to purchase the Executive Inn, saying the 325 W. Columbia St. property and adjacent lots would be used as a temporary solution to provide more non-congregate shelter options in the city.
Heck said the pandemic shed light on the prevalence of homelessness in the city as communities across the nation witnessed an uptick in unsheltered families and individuals.
Non-congregate shelter spaces provide a “safer venue” for families with children who lack homes, Heck said.
“Congregate sheltering is not as conducive for those families to work, to thrive, to grow, to come out of the unfortunate circumstance that they’re in,” Heck said.
Congregate shelters have open spaces for housing unsheltered people. Non-congregate shelters, often set up like dormitories or hotels, include rooms for families to live by themselves and have privacy.
A month before the Executive Inn purchase, the city commission moved to buy the Villager Inn at 1715 W. North St. for $1.7 million. That decision was also funded through ARPA.
The city plans to use the Executive Inn as a non-congregate shelter while it brings the Villager Inn space back online. The West Columbia Street property will then be phased out, according to the city.
The city will consult with developers to look at the Villager Inn and help determine what is necessary for the existing building. The city is open to the recommendations of experts, whether it be reusing the building or demolishing it and building anew.
Springfield’s city manager also said the newly purchased facilities are not replacing current congregate shelter spaces operated by Sheltered Inc.; rather, they add additional space to serve the population of people experiencing homelessness.
Sheltered Inc. operates Norm’s Place, the Hartley House and Mulberry Terrace.