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Waldeck Family Helps Launch Homestead for Families

Photo by Annie Marek-Barta on Unsplash

Thanks in part to a fund set up by the late Jo and Bill Waldeck, a shelved idea to create a local shelter for homeless families is gaining steam again. Housing families at a new facility adjacent to a homeless housing complex on 29 Road could free up space at the current North Avenue shelter to house single men and may help alleviate some of the Grand Valley’s homeless issues, according to officials with HomewardBound of the Grand Valley, a homeless shelter at 2853 North Ave.

"The idea is to remove any barriers to get them sheltered and fed and a plan to get housing," said Greg Moore, the executive director for Homeward-Bound. "The research shows if people get housed, that other stuff happens."

Plans stalled a couple years ago to build a family shelter adjacent to Pathways Village Apartments because of increases in construction costs.

HomewardBound now is reviving the project to create the nearly 19,000-square-foot facility with a groundbreaking slated for this fall. Construction should be complete by late next summer. The three-story building will have space for 80 beds and amenities for families and help officials work with them to find permanent housing.

HomewardBound is launching a $1.5 million community fundraising campaign to the fund the roughly $5 million project. The facility will include a medical day shelter with an onsite health care provider for ill residents. It will house a children’s library and indoor play and study areas. It should be outfitted with a commercial kitchen. Some Homeward Bound administration will move into office space at the new site.

Officials are hopeful that one of the benefits of creating a new facility for families may decrease the numbers of homeless people living in the community.

HomewardBound’s shelter currently cannot accept anyone who is using alcohol or drugs, which may keep some vulnerable people from seeking shelter. Homeless people who aren’t seeking out shelter may not know about the many resources available to them to get into permanent housing and other services.

A men’s only shelter would allow HomewardBound officials to take in homeless people regardless of some drug and alcohol addictions. "They don’t get here on their best day," Moore said. "We want to change that and help get some respite and then help them figure it out."

Susan Diaz’ mother and stepfather, the late Jo and Bill Waldeck, set up an ongoing fund to help Homeward-Bound house people. Diaz said her mother was particularly interested in seeing struggling families succeed and she would approve of the family shelter. While a new facility will provide families with shelter, its larger mission is to connect families with resources and teach skills so they can begin a journey toward permanent housing.

"The new focus of a shelter is not just a place to sleep it off," she said. "We want to help people look beyond and ask them, ‘What do you need to get out of this situation?’ The more the community is aware of that, the better."

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