Hospitality House to break ground on long-awaited shelter |

Hospitality House to break ground on long-awaited shelter

Photo courtesy of Hospitality House

After years of work toward opening a new Grass Valley homeless shelter, Hospitality House plans to break ground within days to renovate its Sutton Way building for that purpose.

“In a matter of months, we will have our shelter,” said Cindy Maple, executive director of the homeless service organization. “It’s amazing. We’ve been waiting for this for so long.”

The 6,500-square-foot permanent shelter in the Brunswick Basin is being called Utah’s Place in honor of the late Hospitality House co-founder and homeless advocate Bruce “Utah” Phillips.

The facility will become the organization’s permanent home, providing year-round overnight sleeping quarters for as many as 54 guests and will include dedicated space for homeless families.

While the ground-breaking milestone will be cause for Hospitality House to celebrate, the organization still has $433,000 to raise to fund the $1.7 million acquisition and renovation project costs, its administrators told The Union Friday.

Hospitality House acquired the facility through a $1 million federal Emergency Housing and Assistance Program Capital Development grant.

After the grant was awarded, the project came to a halt in the spring of 2011 when negotiations with the state’s Department of Housing and Community Development, which administers the shelter’s federal grant, became complicated and difficult, according County Executive Officer Rick Haffey in his weekly Friday memo.

Since then, Hospitality House has pushed for HCD to release the funds to begin renovations, aided by the county, Grass Valley and the Nevada County Contractor’s Association.

On Feb. 27, HCD approved the release of funding, Haffey said.

“We are pleased to see such an important project for our community move forward,” Haffey said in the memo.

With the federal funds in hand, Hospitality House was able to garner a “gap funding” loan thanks to a benefactor who asked to remain anonymous, Maple said.

The private donor stepped forward with a two-year loan to cover the $433,000 that Hospitality House still needed before renovation work on the building could begin — funds the organization will need to pay back.

“This is truly surreal,” Maple said. “We had so many roadblocks. To finally be at this point makes you sit back and say, ‘Wow, we are really here.’ It is just surreal.”

Since its founding seven and a half years ago, Hospitality House has bused more than 40 guests nightly to area churches on a rotating basis because the shelter’s own Grass Valley Welcome Center is not zoned for overnight housing.

Currently, 28 churches host the nonprofit’s guests.

“Without their consistent loyalty, there would never have been a Hospitality House,” Maple said.

The nonprofit’s current facility hosts an afternoon welcome center in downtown Grass Valley, where a hot lunch is served and guests have access to medical care, social services, job counseling, showers and laundry facilities.

The new shelter will not only serve as the nonprofit’s home, but it will allow it to expand its services.

The building will feature a commercial kitchen from which three meals will be served daily in a large dining hall. A separate medical room will be used for administering TB tests and flu shots and will provide respite space for those who are sick or injured.

“This project is truly a community endeavor,” Maple said. “Twenty local contractors will donate about $200,000 worth of labor and materials to renovate the shelter.”

Maple expressed gratitude to general contractor Bill Litchfield and architect Robert Wallis of Wallis Design Studio.

A Pathways to Independence room will be used to teach classes in life skills and a variety of other topics and to help guests research job and housing opportunities.

“Our goal is to provide food and shelter to meet the basic needs of our homeless community members,” Maple said.

“At the same time, we place huge emphasis on helping each guest to get back into housing.”

To contact Staff Writer Christopher Rosacker, email or call 530-477-4236.

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