For a second straight winter, Downtown Daily Bread plans to open a men’s shelter at its facility on South Street in Harrisburg, and it’s now raising funds to make that happen.
Like last year, the downtown shelter, located at the Pine Street Presbyterian Church’s Boyd Memorial Center, would run Dec. 1 to March 31, with a capacity of 40 beds.
“Last year went very well,” said Anne Guenin, director of Downtown Daily Bread. “I don’t think anyone was unsheltered who wanted to be sheltered.”
Like last year, the shelter will open at 8 p.m. and close at 6 a.m. each day.
During most of the year, Downtown Daily Bread operates as a drop-in center, offering daytime shelter and meals to 70 to 90 people a day. Last year, it received city permission to extend its hours for a nighttime men’s shelter during the winter.
The need proved to be great, Guenin said. For most of last winter, the shelter was near capacity, averaging 25 men per night in December, 36 in January, 39 in February and 37 in March.
Guenin said that the men caused few problems, and she didn’t hear any concerns from the surrounding downtown community.
The biggest obstacles, she said, are staffing and funding. To that end, Downtown Daily Bread is trying to raise $100,000, which would cover expenses for the next two winters. Money also is being raised to fund a staff position dedicated to helping those staying in winter shelters get into long-term housing.
In addition to the shelter at Downtown Daily Bread, 23 beds for men will be available this winter at the Susquehanna Harbor Safe Haven, run by Christian Churches United. Bethesda Mission in Midtown also opens up emergency beds for men when the temperature drops below 20 degrees Fahrenheit or in case of inclement winter weather.
Guenin said that, last year, the number of men staying overnight at Bethesda Mission due to hazardous weather conditions plummeted, which she attributed to the opening of the Downtown Daily Bread shelter. That, she said, allowed Bethesda Mission to more effectively serve its existing clients—those committed to long-term recovery.
“We have a nice system of coordination,” she said. “If people went to Bethesda, they would be sent to us.”
To donate to Downtown Daily Bread, visit www.downtowndailybread.org or mail a check payable to Downtown Daily Bread, 310 N. 3rd Street, Harrisburg, PA 17101.