Nevada County homeless shelter nears completion, needs funds |

Nevada County homeless shelter nears completion, needs funds

Know & Go

What: Think Outside the Box: Sleep in a cardboard box to raise money for Hospitality House (Event includes dinner, music, speakers, movie and popcorn).

Where: Nevada County Fairgrounds, Gate 4

When: 3 p.m., Oct. 5 to 9 a.m. Oct. 6

Cost: Participants collect pledges with a goal of raising a minimum of $100

Contact: For information and registration forms, go to or call Hospitality House at 530-271-7144.

While developers have their sights set for a November opening of Nevada County’s first permanent homeless shelter, Utah’s Place, the organization that will operate the caregiving facility has its eyes on a $205,000 gap that needs to be filled.

“We are still looking to raise the money to pay the private loan,” said Cindy Maple, Hospitality House’s executive director.

In the six months since breaking ground on Utah’s Place on Sutton Way in Grass Valley, Hospitality House has raised a third of the funds it needs to cover the cost of creating the shelter and service center.

“I want to pay the loan off by the end of the year so we can get back to our mission,” Maple said.

Hospitality House originally hoped for a July opening, but since the building is not being built from scratch and is instead a renovation, one that had $25,000 of change orders from unanticipated issues, the completion has been pushed back a couple months.

“This is going to be a model homeless shelter in the United States,” said Joanna Robinson, cofounder of Hospitality House and president of its board of directors,

For the last nine years, shelter services grew from winter months only, to six months a year, and finally to year-round coverage, all of which was accomplished by churches taking turns hosting bused guests.

The new shelter is named Utah’s Place in honor of the nonprofit’s beloved cofounder, Utah Phillips, an ardent fighter for labor and peace issues, a folk singer, a poet and advocate for the homeless who died May 23, 2008, of heart failure.

Located at 1262 Sutton Way in Grass Valley, the 6,500-square-foot facility will be available year-round as overnight sleeping quarters for more than 50 guests and will include dedicated space for homeless families.

“I’m hoping the numbers go down, but there are so many,” Maple said.

The facility will also feature a 60-person dining area and commercial-grade kitchen, with the dining area doubling as a gathering and instructional area.

Maple envisions a section of one of the walls dominated by a large chalkboard, where people can write their fears and symbolically erase them, she said.

Currently, Hospitality House operates out of the Welcome Center on South Church Street where daytime guests can get a hot lunch and have access to medical care, social services, job counseling, showers and laundry facilities — the facility does not host anyone overnight.

The facility it also tight on space. As many as three people share a tiny side room for an office that otherwise could be mistaken for a closet.

In contrast, Utah’s Place will dedicate more than a quarter of the base level of Utah’s Place to Hospitality House’s growing staff who provide a range of services, such as job training, securing affordable housing and case-by-case homeless action plans.

“This place will allow them (staff) to do their behind-the-scenes work,” Maple said.

Utah’s Place also will not “open” to guests before 4 p.m., however visitors can come there for services during the day.

“You want the daytime hours to be 100 percent about moving forward,” Maple said. “They will have the ability now to get services, support and training all in one place.”

Guests will also be required to engage in Hospitality House’s services, such as taking at least one life skills class per week or one employment training program.

“People will come in the door with nothing, get food and … get shelter, and eventually walk out of here with a job or housing,” Robinson said. “Some day they will walk out the door with a home.”

Beyond funds to make up the $200,000 loan that made Utah’s Place possible, Hospitality House also needs office chairs, industrial washers and dryers, commercial cooking equipment, pillows, waterproof mattress pads and a large wall-mounted flat-screen television for the dormitory lounge, Maple said.

For more information, visit or contact the shelter at 530-271-7144.

“We want to give tours to anyone who wants one,” Maple said.

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

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