Harrisonburg breaks ground on homeless services center
The city of Harrisonburg held a groundbreaking ceremony on Thursday for a homeless services center. WMRA's Randi B. Hagi reports.
Members of the city council and staff and representatives from local service agencies gathered behind a sprawling brick house on North Main Street, waiting for Mayor Deanna Reed to take the podium.
DEANNA REED: So today, we officially break ground on what will become a center for services for unhoused people in Harrisonburg.
The center will be the first permanent, low-barrier homeless shelter in the city. Other shelters are either seasonal, only open during the coldest months, or high-barrier – meaning they have stricter rules about who can stay there, such as barring people who are inebriated.
City leaders had hoped to have the center completed by this fall, as The Harrisonburg Citizen reported. After that timeline proved impractical, Nielsen Builders won a contract to finish the center by October 2024. The city council has allocated $5 million of American Rescue Plan Act funds and $1.5 million of general capital funds for the project.
Acting Deputy City Manager Amy Snider explained that the existing, historic building on the property will be renovated and expanded.
AMY SNIDER: That will primarily serve as office space. There will be a small wing … a medical wing for the facility. And then the extension, expansion, will be the location for the primary sheltering services.
Building the shelter has been one of Reed's personal missions.
REED: One thing that keeps me up – I've been asked that question so many times. "What keeps you up, as mayor?" The safety of our children is one, and people living out on our streets is another.
City staff are still pricing some components of the project, including solar panels and an emergency generator.