Homeless shelter in Carson City in the works

Carson City's faith community is partnering with Healthsmart, a local nonprofit group, to reopen a homeless drop-in shelter that closed in 2003 due to lack of funding.

St. Peter's Episcopal Church and Healthsmart have applied for a $76,000 grant. The project also has the backing of several faith groups, including the United Methodist Church.

The money would cover rent and provide the center with a full-time accredited mental health professional. The shelter would be staffed with volunteers from the faith community.

Carson City's last drop-in shelter, the Jubilee Center which closed in 2003, provided the homeless community with meals, a place to pick up mail and hang out during the day.

Back then, "we were flying by the seat of our pants," the Rev. Jeff Paul of St. Peter's Church said. "This proposal is light years beyond Jubilee."

Since Jubilee's closure, the homeless have had nowhere to go, resulting in more petty crime, a clogged court system and busy emergency rooms, Father Paul said.

"Once (the Jubilee Center) closed, the police department noticed a difference for the worse," Father Paul said.

The new shelter would include triage and case-management services, in addition to job training.

"Establishing a drop-in center is the first step in rehabilitating the homeless," Father Paul said. "At the end of the road, we'd like to see them with a job and a place to live. That's the dream."

Since Carson City's population hit 50,000, it became entitled to increased federal funding, which helped spark Father Paul and Healthsmart's interest in restarting the shelter.

"The center's mission would be to provide a safe and nurturing environment," said Maryellen Waltz, executive director of Healthsmart.

Even if the project doesn't receive full funding, Waltz said she would be happy if the city provided a space for the center or rent money.

The proposed 1,000-square-foot shelter would be located within a mile of downtown.

"These operations are run on a shoestring," Waltz said. "Even partial funding would be a great help."

n Contact reporter Dan Moreau at dmoreau@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1217.


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