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Homeless shelter now 70% larger

Homeless shelter now 70% larger

Gabriel’s Horn is now ready to welcome more homeless women after completing a $300,000 expansion largely funded by federal money from the American Rescue Plan Act.

The $270,000 grant, channeled through Porter County, allowed Gabriel’s Horn in South Haven to add four guest rooms and many other amenities to serve additional clients.

Today, the nonprofit agency is working to create an “81 Hundred Club” to encourage donors to give $8,100, the cost of a six-month stay for a client and their family. The daily cost is $45.

Twenty donors giving $8,100 each would cover the entire annual cost of housing homeless clients at the shelter, executive director Jerry Czarnecki said.

“We don’t charge anyone to come here,” he stressed. The $8,100 covers a client’s staff, utilities and other expenses for six months, the maximum length of stay at the shelter.

Gabriel’s Horn needs to strengthen its financial capacity, Czarnecki said. Paying off the mortgage with proceeds from the annual fundraiser will help take a step toward sustainability, he said.

The completed expansion uses a quarter of the pole barn to which the shed is attached. With this project, Gabriel’s Horn was able to make the shelter more accessible, with a ramp instead of steps leading to the expanded area.

A large bathroom has a shower big enough for a person in a wheelchair, Czarnecki said.

There is also a pantry with at least one shelf per guest to store non-perishable items. An additional shelf allows guests to place items that could be shared with others at the shelter.

Guests can be assured of privacy in their room. The only people who can unlock the guest’s room are the guest, the executive director and the house manager, Czarnecki said.

In the new common area there are sofas and videos as well as a computer area with two desktop computers and a printer.

Each of the four new rooms for homeless women and their families includes at least one bunk bed, with the top bunk sturdy enough to accommodate an adult if necessary.  Each new guest receives a welcome bag containing toiletries and other essentials to help them adjust to their new temporary home, photographed Tuesday, May 28, 2024. (Doug Ross/for Post-Tribune)
Each of the four new rooms for homeless women and their families includes at least one bunk bed, with the top bunk sturdy enough to accommodate an adult if necessary. Each new guest receives a welcome bag containing toiletries and other essentials to help them adjust to their new temporary accommodation, pictured on Tuesday. (Doug Ross/for Post-Tribune)

Even with the four new rooms, increasing capacity by 70%, there will still be a waiting list, Czarnecki said. There is room for expansion inside the pole shed, but Gabriel’s Horn must first be able to fund operations at the existing level.

Unlike some shelters, Gabriel’s Horn does not offer in-house community services. This is because clients will be moving in six months or less. Connecting clients to community services will allow them to continue working seamlessly with these agencies when they find permanent housing.

“We provide them with housing while they focus on their future,” Czarnecki said.

Among the partnerships is working with nearby parking lots that help customers get the transportation they need. When a parking lot accepts a trade-in that would be sold at auction, residents of Gabriel’s Horn have the opportunity to purchase it first.

Gabriel’s Horn frequently updates its wish list posted on its website to help people know which items would be helpful, Czarnecki said. Furniture and other items should be sent to places like the New Designs Resale Store in Valparaiso.

When a client is ready to transition to permanent housing, Gabriel’s Horn provides a list of items they will need for their new home. Customers can take that list to New Creation, which provides the items free of charge, he said.

Morgan Lloyd, case manager at New Creation, works with homeless men who spend the night at local churches until the new homeless shelter is built.

Clients at Gabriel’s Horn and some other shelters can receive clothing and furniture vouchers for items available at New Creation, although they must first make an appointment, Lloyd said.

New Creation offers dining tables and chairs, sofas, sometimes a television and even a bicycle when needed for transportation, she said.

“Everyone is excited to receive this help,” Lloyd said.

Construction on the addition began Dec. 10 and was recently completed. The contractor is still adding some minor finishing touches, but the county has granted Gabriel’s Horn an occupancy permit for the new space.

During construction, generous people provided meals every day while the kitchen was being renovated, Czarnecki said.

Doug Ross is a freelance reporter for the Post-Tribune.