•about a week, the newly renovated apartments at Anchor House Shelter and Family Assistance Center in Seymour will be ready for its first families.
The seven apartments in two buildings behind the shelter will offer housing for homeless or low-income families, and the new office in the complex will provide space for a program director and a computer lab. The expansion will add three apartments to the shelter’s capacity.
Anchor House, on South Vine Street, works with the families with children who move into the facility for eight weeks and helps them with access to food, housing and employment while signing them up for social services and assisting them with life skills.
Recently, volunteers have spent hours mopping, scrubbing and wiping down the one-bedroom apartments, which include a bathroom, a living room, a kitchen area and a large bedroom closet. Each unit will hold a bunk bed, a pullout couch or futon, a television and a kitchen table.
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“This looks like home already. This feels like home already,” Anchor House Executive Director Deb Bedwell said. “There’s just little things that need to be done.”
Bedwell said that, although the apartments will be move-in ready by the end of next week, she’s currently down a staff member — the shelter’s program director recently decided to take an opportunity outside the county. So before the apartments can be opened up, that position needs to be filled.
“I can’t run three buildings by myself,” she said.
With the new project, Bedwell said, she expects at least 50 to 60 families to use the facility this year. Last year, an estimated 36 families and 56 children used the shelter’s living space, which held up to four families.
The new apartments, which have received improvements on the interior and exterior, will be able to hold seven family members in each unit. There also are plans to upgrade the current facility, which also houses the food pantry.
With the new apartments, the living quarters in the present shelter no longer will be used for families. Instead, Bedwell said, she’d like to see some reorganization of the building with the food pantry expanded and the storage area redesigned to make it easier to shop for food.
Last year, 18,197 people were served, and 163,773 meals were provided. So far this year, 6,529 people have been served, with 58,761 meals provided through May.
“When we open up on some days, there’s already 20 people in line, and it sometimes takes two-plus hours to get through,” Bedwell said. “We want to get people through more efficiently.”
Bedwell said the proposed improvements will have to be done in stages because the funds to cover revamping the entire building are not available.
The current apartment project, which includes the addition of a playground and a privacy fence around all three buildings, is being paid for through a grant from the Cummins Foundation, other donations and volunteers.
Eric Skaggs, the project’s general contractor, previously told The Tribune that the price tag for the apartment renovations plus partial construction to the current shelter’s building is about a half-million dollars. According to the sales disclosure form, the apartments were purchased for $72,000 from JCB.
In addition to the grant, Cummins Inc.’s Seymour Engine Plant in Seymour has sent employees to volunteer their time for the physical labor of the project.
Jordan Winkler, a Columbus resident, was one of about six helping to scrub bathtubs and clean windows Monday morning. About 20 more are expected to come out next week to keep the project on schedule.
“A lot of work has been done, so we’re just coming and putting the final touches,” Winkler said. “Being able to put a little shine on it gives a little more excitement when the move-in comes.”
Bedwell said it takes a whole community to make projects like this work.
“It’s just amazing to see everyone come together,” she said.
To donate, monetary donations are always needed for projects, but there’s also currently a need for kitchen items, such as pots, pans, silverware, dishes, towels, crock pots, can openers and spatulas.
For information on how to donate to Anchor House, call 812-522-9308.
You also can visit the shelter’s website at anchorhouseshelter.org or find it on Facebook by searching Anchor House.