Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

Shalom House moves forward with shelter project, hopes to help more women in need

Shalom House’s Community Center on 15th Street in Harrisburg.

When COVID-19 hit, Shalom House’s emergency shelter had to reduce the number of women and children it served by half. But now, with a new project, the nonprofit will offer more services than ever before.

On Tuesday night, Harrisburg City Council unanimously approved the development of three vacant lots behind Shalom House’s office on N. 15th Street.

The lots will soon house a building for emergency shelter and transitional housing, according to Denise Britton, acting president of Shalom Houses’ sister business, Shalom Properties.

“We want to bring community to people and support them along the way,” Britton said.

Shalom House currently has a 21-bed emergency shelter in Allison Hill, as well as programming to aid those experiencing homelessness. In May 2019, Shalom House purchased the former Unitarian Church of Harrisburg in Allison Hill to repurpose as a community center.

“We were really looking to see how we could wrap services together and address the root cause of what brings people into homelessness and poverty,” she said.

Building on the lots behind the community center was part of the plan from the beginning.

“The campus plan is to keep the community close,” Britton said at the council meeting.

Shalom House plans to break ground on the project in November and begin housing people by the spring of 2021, Britton said at the city council work session last week.

Shalom House’s current shelter will eventually turn into a lease-to-own property, Britton said. She added that the organization hopes to offer affordable apartments for those looking for a permanent living situation.

Britton said that the total campus plan project, including renovations for the community center, construction for the new building for shelter and housing and renovations for the lease-to-own property will cost around $5 million.

Capital Area Head Start (CAHS), part of Keystone Human Services, serves as Shalom House’s partner in the community center project. Much of the building is leased to CAHS for classrooms and office space.

Many of Shalom House’s plans for the center were delayed due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Britton is excited to continue work on the campus plan and further the process of beginning construction on the new building.

“This project will allow them to expand the capacity of their housing operations and will allow them to help a great population,” said Geoffrey Knight, Harrisburg’s director of planning. “It’s a really great project for the community.”

For more information, visit Shalom House’s website.

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