Community Development Block Grant-CV
CDBV Day Center Retrofit
The City of Bemidji has historically had very limited services for homeless community members. In 2016, the Nameless Coalition for the Homeless (NCH) opened the Wolfe Shelter as a seasonal overnight shelter for single adults needing a warm, safe place to sleep who are either in chronic homeless situations or for those facing crisis situations who need shelter. The need for an additional day shelter continued to be discussed by the community and the need became even more pronounced after COVID-19 began sweeping through the community.
NCH formed a building subcommittee in May of 2020 with hopes for a day shelter. After months of searching for a suitable building, Sanford Health of Bemidji offered to donate an unused building, and NCH was able to open the New Day Center in December of 2021. At 8,000 square feet, there is ample room to allow people to safely spread out to prevent the spread of the virus. The building also has over twenty small offices, which are being offered to partner agencies as “satellite offices” to help them reach clients where they are, thereby eliminating a cumbersome hurdle of inadequate public transportation. Along with provided office space for services, these rooms are available to quarantine guests showing any symptoms of COVID-19. The breadth of services offered at the New Day Center include a safe and warm space to be during the day, laundry, space to clean up, wi-fi, and connections to mental health resources, health related services, community resources, housing support, life skills, and employment opportunities.
Unfortunately, the Day Center building has some deficiencies. It is split-level and a chair lift will need to be installed for universal access to either floor. ADA compliant showers and toilets will be needed. The roof is old, leaky and flat and will need to be replaced. The building needs to be sprinkled. The carpeting is from the seventies and in need of replacement. There are also likely asbestos tiles that need mitigation.
Once the retrofit of this building is complete, the outdated and non-conforming building will be modernized and ready to contribute another thirty years of activity in Bemidji. The Day Center will not only help prevent COVID-19 spread, staff will also be available to help someone who does contract the virus to keep them and others safe. The Day Center will also serve as a safe haven for people as they search for the services to help them find stability and happiness. The new space will also give area service providers one more tool in their toolkit as they provide housing, healthcare, therapy and other services for their clients.
To complete the retrofit, NCH partnered with HRDC and the City of Bemidji to apply for a competitive COVID-Related Community Development Block Grant through the Department of Education and Economic Development. There was a very short timeframe for the application, and HRDC worked closely and quickly with Bemidji and NCH to write and submit the grant. $570,000 was awarded in 2021 to support the repairs. Since then, HRDC completed an environmental review and the project was approved for work to begin. Widseth was selected as the architect/engineering firm and has completed design work, and contract bids are set to be awarded in June 2022 so that construction work can be complete by the end of the year. HRDC will be with the project through completion to provide administrative services for the grant and project.