11% of Putnam County residents live below the poverty line and officials worry the community could see that number increase as thousands of Hoosiers lose their unemployment insurance benefits.
Greencastle’s last homeless shelter closed in 2011. Since that time, several efforts have been launched to serve the area’s growing need.
At one point the city proposed dipping into its rainy-day fund to purchase a building which could serve as a shelter. But two private residents have taken it upon themselves.
They purchased a building across the street from city hall for $185,000 and their corporation, Beyond Homelessness recently received 501c.3 status.
Board member Matt Mascioli says there has been an outpouring of support from the community and someone needed to step up to get the project moving.
However, Greencastle Mayor Sue Murray says her office has received a lot of calls from concerned neighbors who are worried about the possible ramifications of living next door to a homeless shelter.
“Some of the neighbors there, have some real questions about what are the rules and regulations to be, who’s going to be supervising, does it affect the safety of their neighborhood,” Murray says.
Mascioli says neighbors need not worry. The Housing Authority and some form of homeless shelter has operated in the building for several years and the new effort will be a continuation of those services.
He says while details have not been finalized, the shelter will be substance free and will only take families, women and children.
“At any given time there may be room for as many as 5 families or even more – and then we would probably keep one room for single women, who are homeless,” Mascioli says.
While single men will not be allowed to stay at the shelter, they will continue to be directed to services in nearby communities.
Mascioli says his group will be meeting with community members in January to address their concerns.
He hopes to attract another community-based non-profit group to make the building a true community hub for people facing poverty and homelessness.