The renovation of two apartment buildings as part of an expansion of a Seymour homeless shelter will likely be done in two months, allowing three more families to receive temporary housing until they can get back on their feet.
Anchor House Family Assistance Center, which currently has room for as many as four low-income families with children, purchased the two apartment buildings behind its facility on South Vine Street earlier this year.
The center works with the families for short periods of time to help them with access to food, housing and employment while signing them up for social services and assisting them with life skills.
Eric Skaggs, a Seymour resident and the project’s general contractor, said crews and subcontractors are about two weeks behind due to winter weather, but the goal is to have the eight apartment units fully improved by June.
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“It’s just exciting to be able to sit here and watch all of the changes when we have lived next to this for so many years,” said Deb Bedwell, executive director of Anchor House. “I can’t wait to fill them in.”
Bedwell said she has been peeking and taking pictures of the updates.
“I’m over here often, coming and going and climbing in and looking around,” she said. “The difference from where we started is unbelievable.”
A few months ago, the apartments, which were in foreclosure, were full of bugs, roaches and debris with most of the windows missing.
“It just looked like a slum,” Bedwell said.
The apartments were gutted first and now have received significant improvements inside and out, including new windows and doors. The exterior vinyl siding has been removed, and some brickwork has been added.
Just this week, workers hung drywall in one of the buildings and put drywall finish on the other. Skaggs said they are planning to start priming in preparation for painting next week.
The finished product will allow Anchor House to offer housing to a total of seven families with children and an area in the buildings for a new case management office.
Eventually, there will be a vinyl fence surrounding the entirety of Anchor House property, transforming the area into a safe campus for the kids, Bedwell said.
Last year, Anchor House served 29 families, including 49 children. The shelter turned away 123 families because of a lack of room.
Bedwell said there also are plans to renovate the current center, which has rooms, a living area and a kitchen for families to share. It also has a community food pantry, which served 4,700 families or 16,700 people last year.
Currently, the Anchor House board is in the process of deciding the layout of the present center, and Skaggs said his crew is working on the blueprints. He said they hope to start construction soon after the apartments are completed.
“The trick here is that we won’t be able to stop services while this is all going on,” Bedwell said.
The price tag for the renovations plus partial construction to the current facility is almost a half-million dollars, Skaggs said. The apartments were purchased for $72,000 from JCB, according to the sales disclosure form.
Bedwell said the project has relied on a significant grant from the Cummins Foundation, but she said she cannot disclose the amount. Anchor House also recently received $10,000 from Jackson Township Trustee Bill Marsh.
Despite the extra funding and Bedwell’s intention to apply for more grants, donations are still needed, she said.
“The grants are all going to be spent on this project, and there will not be enough to finish it,” she said. “The construction to our current building may have to be completed in stages and may take a little longer.”
There are many opportunities for individuals or groups of volunteers to help with the improvements, including moving the playground to a different area, updating the interior of the units and taking down some of the current fencing.
To get involved, Bedwell said to call board member John Burkhart at 812-525-7459 to sign up for a time.
To volunteer at Anchor House, contact John Burkhart at 812-525-7459.
To make a donation, call 812-522-9308.