Best use of funds for shelter
To clarify the planning and funding situation of the Fargo emergency homeless shelter and detox facility: The shelter and center are two separate entities that will share one building. When planning began for establishing a homeless shelter that ...
To clarify the planning and funding situation of the Fargo emergency homeless shelter and detox facility:
The shelter and center are two separate entities that will share one building. When planning began for establishing a homeless shelter that would admit people not allowed into other shelters (for intoxication, mental illness, behavior issues or a combination of the three), the idea of co-locating a detox center in the same facility was proposed.
Detox services are a city responsibility, and fall under the law enforcement and public safety budget. Currently, detox services are contracted with Centre Inc., but their facility is being overwhelmed. According to the Fargo Police Department, admissions to detox increased 43 percent from 2005 to 2006. Police calls for service involving intoxicated people were up by 45 percent. Expanding and moving the detox function to a new facility will allow the city to keep up with the increased need for service.
The proposed emergency shelter, which will accept people with addiction and mental health issues, will help connect those people to social services and help people transition to permanent supportive housing, which is a major component of Fargo's Ten-Year Plan to End Long-Term Homelessness.
In addition, the presence of professional detox staff to manage the facility and provide support services to the emergency shelter will be a big advantage, as will the efficiency of co-location to reduce the number of police calls for transporting people from the former Ray of Hope location to detox. This facility will provide the opportunity to expand detox facilities to serve the city's increasing needs.
A task force was convened over the summer to identify space functions in the emergency shelter building which was acquired with federal funds in June. This task force, which included representation from the Police Department, Center Inc., Southeast Human Services, Mental Health America of North Dakota, Churches United for the Homeless, the Jefferson neighborhood, and the city, spent several months with architects determining the best configuration for both the shelter portion and the detox portion of the facility.
It was at this point that we received the first actual estimate of rehab costs for the entire facility, the shelter side and the detox side. The shelter is considerably less expensive to rehab.
Throughout the planning of this project and the purchase of the building, we had identified CDBG funds already on hand as the funding source for the shelter rehab. We did not know at that point how far those funds would stretch to cover the detox side as well, because the estimate for the detox facility was the final step in the summer-long planning and design work of the task force with the architects.
Once we received the estimate for costs of the detox facility, it was clear that an additional funding source would need to be identified. Fargo's finance director and city administrator recommend that funding for rehab of the detox facility be similar to other city capital projects, such as the central garage roofing project, construction of a west side fire station, etc., which will be paid for from funds available from administration revenue generated by city infrastructure projects, NOT out of general fund property tax revenues. Again, the shelter side rehab will be paid for with federal CDBG funds already identified for this project.
The people in our community who need these services are the city's public safety responsibility. Our current detox facility is beyond capacity. The plan to co-locate these two functions in one building - a detox facility for public safety and law enforcement and an emergency homeless shelter for impaired individuals - makes best and most efficient use of public dollars without impacting general fund property tax revenues.
Coates is a Fargo city commissioner and deputy mayor.
Best use of funds for shelter By Linda Coates 20071016