If built, the Soldotna homeless shelter proposed by Love INC would be a model for such facilities across the nation, according to the group’s national president.
“We have transitional facilities across the country, but none the size of this being proposed here,” Robert Odom said in an address to the Soldotna City Council on Wednesday.
“We would like this to be a model for others,” he said.
Odom, president of the 30-year-old organization that represents a network of 8,000 churches, said the Soldotna model would have an opportunity to influence lives elsewhere, and actually already has.
He said when another group was considering building a transitional facility in the Lower 48, it heard of the plans for a 55-unit shelter in Soldotna and was inspired to pursue a facility similar in scope.
Love INC initially approached Soldotna last year with the idea of a 30-unit shelter it would like to build on city-owned land next to the Alaska State Troopers post on Kalifornsky Beach Road.
In December, the group’s local executive director, Ingrid Edgerly, wrote to City Manager Tom Boedeker that Alaska Mental Health Trust representatives in Anchorage suggested Love INC consider the larger size with the goal of becoming self-sustaining.
Love INC wants to build the Family Hope Center, a two-story transitional housing facility on an eight-acre, triangular-shaped piece of land next to the trooper post.
If built, “the facility would accommodate single-parent families, intact families, single adults, people with disabilities and veterans,” said Edgerly.
“Everyone staying at the Family Hope Center ... will come through case management and will be housed there on a month-to-month basis,” she said.
The shelter will not be for women in crisis or teens alone.
When asked by newly appointed council member Shane Horan if Love INC believed it could sustain a 55-unit shelter, Odom said through the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District alone, 84 families were identified as being in need of housing in 2006, and already this year, 48 have been identified.
Mayor Dave Carey asked that the Love INC representatives provide information on opportunities that will be provided to residents for moving from transitional housing into permanent housing and into full-time employment.
In other business, the council was told a $300,000 appropriation would be on the next council agenda for land acquisition and development of a city cemetery.
Boedeker said he will propose retaining a professional to locate some cemetery property options for the council to consider.
The council tabled two street improvement projects it had been considering for the Diane Lane cul-de-sac and Crow’s Nest Court.
Saying the assessments on Diane Lane could be as much as $16,000 each lot, Boedeker said he questioned whether the projects were the best use of city funds.
Rather than just walk away, after some preliminary design work has been done, council member Jim Stogsdill recommended making some upgrades to the dirt streets, but moved to table the projects at this time.
Other than receiving opposition from student council member Tashina Wortham-Turnbull, both projects were tabled unanimously.
Wortham-Turnbull said later, she felt if the projects were not going forward, it was a waste of time to table them; they should be removed from the city’s project list altogether.
The council also approved having the city manager prepare information for annexation of four areas along the city’s existing boundaries.
The areas being looked at include properties along Funny River Road from Spenard Builders Supply to the Soldotna airport; the Skyline Drive area at Kalifornsky Beach Road from behind Cook Inlet Academy to Slikok Creek; an area along the Sterling Highway from River and Sea Marine Supply up to Skyview High School; and a section between the city limits and Ridgeway Road from Pioneer Drive to Heath Street, just west of Mackey Lake Road.
The city has said earlier the annexation process would take a minimum of two years to complete, if it goes forward.
Phil Hermanek can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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