A $2.6 million grant to Shelter House of Iowa City will allow construction to begin on the long-delayed homeless shelter.
The grant was announced Monday in Cedar Rapids by Gov. Chet Culver, along with grants to 15 other homeless and domestic-violence shelters in the state. The grants total $10 million in I-JOBS funding, he said.
The money for Shelter House will go toward a 70-bed shelter at 429 Southgate Ave., on the south side of Iowa City, to replace the 29-bed facility at 331 N. Gilbert St.
The project had been delayed for years by legal challenges, beginning in 2004.
Protesters showed up at the groundbreaking in July, saying they had safety concerns about having a homeless shelter in their neighborhood.
The courts and the city have given Shelter House the OK to proceed, and the I-JOBS money provides the funding needed to complete the $5.3 million project. The building foundation has already been poured, but the remaining phases of construction will be let out for bid immediately, with a goal of opening the shelter in October 2010.
“We really appreciate this opportunity and appreciate the support,” said Crissy Canganelli, Shelter House executive director.
During his Monday stop, Culver toured the Willis Dady Shelter, 1247 Fourth Ave. SE in Cedar Rapids, and said help from I-JOBS for the homeless was pushed for by his wife, Mari Culver.
“This $10 million in the I-JOBS initiative would not have been there but for her advocacy,” he said.
Willis Dady, which houses up to 16 men and four families, will get $300,000 to renovate and expand its offices, improve security and make the building more environmentally friendly.
“It’s going to make the place safer, more energy-efficient,” said Tim Wilson, the shelter’s director.
Because of the national recession, demand for homeless shelters has increased in Iowa, Culver said, and more than 17,000 people sought help in the state’s shelters last year.
In Linn County, I-JOBS will fund more than $90 million in projects and programs, with the two biggest grants — $10 million each — going toward the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library and construction of a human services complex. Johnson County is getting $33.4 million total.
In all, $830 million in I-JOBS funds will be used to upgrade Iowa’s roads and bridges, invest in renewable energy projects, improve water quality and upgrade public facilities.
Bonds sold to finance I-JOBS are funded with gaming revenue.