With the uncertainty of the nation’s economy, there are a lot of people who are struggling and in need of assistance. In more severe cases, there are individuals and families that don’t have a place to escape the cold weather or to lay their head. These people often suffer greatly because of a lack of available resources.
The Vandalia Housing Authority is currently working on a service shelter that will help disadvantaged people and families in Vandalia and surrounding communities, along with those in nearby Pike County. The shelter that will house up to 10 people, will be located at 200 S. Main Street in the old Boatman’s Bank building.
The building for the service shelter was purchased through funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The Vandalia Housing Authority will eventually move their management offices to the front section of the building.
Vandalia Housing Authority Executive Director Allen Chandler indicated that the shelter will be set up to help families that are affected by a disaster such as fire or weather, as well as those that are homeless.
Applicants that are admitted to the shelter will be able to stay seven nights from 7 p.m.-8 a.m. As part of the criteria to stay, applicants must either be working, actively looking for a job, or perform some type of community service on a daily basis. Chandler is looking to local churches, businesses, or community offices for community service opportunities.
Once a person or family has stayed at the shelter for seven nights, they will not be allowed to stay at the shelter again for three months.
Another service the shelter will provide is a food distribution center in the same building. The shelter will be working with the help center in Mexico and in Columbia.
A representative from the Central Missouri Community Action (CMCA) of Mexico will also make visits to Vandalia to help out at the service shelter. CMCA’s mission is to help income eligible individuals and families achieve self-reliance through partnerships with the community.
Chandler is seeking further assistance through various grants that would help fund the service shelter. One grant would be used to hire an on site supervisor that would stay overnight. Another pending grant would provide gas vouchers to people who need extended living arrangements. The gas vouchers would be used to travel to homeless shelters in Callaway County that house people up to 60 days.
“People don’t realize that there is a homeless problem in Audrain County. I hope that this will be a stepping stone for people who maybe have overstayed their welcome with families and friends. It would be a place to help people get back on their feet. If I help one person and they appreciate it, then I am good with that,” Chandler said.
The Vandalia Housing Authority currently manages a 78-unit housing complex on Maple Drive, Horseshoe Drive, and Parkview Drive.
The anticipated grand opening of the Vandalia Service Shelter is February 1, 2014.