MASON CITY, Iowa – The number of people in need of services from a north Iowa homeless shelter is growing. Because of high demand, the shelter is in the process of renovating a new facility so they can house more people.
It’s a bit of a fixer-upper now, but soon the new space will be home to many women and children in need of shelter in Mason City.
Jeannie Kingery is the shelter administrator for New Beginnings House of Hope, which was formally Trinity House of Hope.
In the new facility, they’ll be able to provide rooms for almost twice the women they could in the old space; which is sorely needed.
“Occupancy has increased 60% from 2012-2013, so we clearly have a need for this program in Mason City,” explains Kingery.
She says they need to get the new space up to code. Renovations and the purchase of the building will cost $670,000. But Kingery says the new building is necessary to meet the need and make the shelter more efficient.
“We have seen from January, February, and March our numbers were very low; we were housing between 7 and 8 women and now in July we’re full.”
It’s not just homeless shelters in high demand during these summer months. The Community Kitchen has seen close to 600 unduplicated services just in the month of June.
“That means that many different people have come through the kitchen to have a meal,” explains Amanda Ragan, who runs the Community Kitchen.
But that high number is not necessarily a bad sign.
“When you see that many, close to 600 unduplicated services, that means there’s a turn over and people are utilizing it and then moving on and that’s what we hope to see,” Ragan adds.
Even though there has been a lot of turn around, the kitchen is still a busy place.
Kingery predicts these kinds of services will be a must in this community for years to come.
“I know that they’re saying that trends are changing, and the economy is going up. By the numbers that we’re seeing that’s not proving to be true,” adds Kingery.
In order to tackle the cost of the new shelter, New Beginnings House of Hope will be holding a fundraiser this October. The goal is to have the facility completely renovated this fall.