McKenna House seeks $500,000 grant to add 16 beds
The number of beds at the Salvation Army’s McKenna House will increase significantly if the homeless shelter is awarded the nearly $500,000 federal grant it’s seeking. And so far, the odds look promising: No other group has submitted an application to the county and the deadline is next month, said Merrimack County Administrator Kathleen Bateson.
McKenna House has 26 beds, 19 for men and seven for women. The grant money would allow the shelter to add 16 beds, bringing the number of beds for men to 29 and for women to 12, said Maj. Jerry Stinson of the Salvation Army. The expansion would also allow the Salvation Army to put a dining room in McKenna House.
“Especially during the winter months, we are still seeing people we are saying no to,” Stinson said. “We will be able to open up some beds for veterans as well. This will be a great part of trying to end homelessness.”
McKenna House provided shelter to 238 people last year but turns away about 10 people a day because it rarely has free beds, shelter Director Lorrie Dale told the Monitor in June. She was unavailable yesterday.
Residents typically stay from three to six months, paying $10 a day or completing 20 hours a week in community service. Residents can volunteer their time at the shelter or at a nonprofit in the community. Dale said 99 percent opt to volunteer. During their stay, residents receive help finding jobs and permanent housing from a case manager.
Convicted sex offenders are not allowed to stay because of the shelter’s proximity to day cares and schools. Residents must remain drug- and alcohol-free to keep their bed.
This would be the second Community Development Block Grant awarded to McKenna House in two years. In 2011, the shelter was awarded a $225,000 federal grant through the county. Shelter officials paired the money with in-kind donations and volunteer efforts to replace the building’s furnace, siding, windows and flooring. They also created a new activity space in the once dirt-floor basement for music and art therapy.
“That was a good project,” Bateson said. “They got a lot done for their money.”
The Merrimack County Board of Commissioners will hold a hearing on the Salvation Army’s application Jan. 7, a required first step in awarding the grant. In the meantime, the Salvation Army will write and submit its official grant proposal.
Bateson said the folks at McKenna House could know as early as late January or early February whether they will be awarded the grant.
(Annmarie Timmins can be reached at 369-3323 or firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @annmarietimmins.)