We welcome back Chris Cassidy to Poverty’s Edge, Chris is one of the Senior Planners at Community Action.  Thanks for the update on the expansion of Sixth Street Shelter!

With nearly 90 families on the waiting list to get in, the timing couldn’t be better to expand the Sixth Street Shelter (SSS). Community Action will partner with Habitat for Humanity and First Presbyterian Church of Allentown for this project, which will enable the SSS to serve 35 more families a year.

This all started last fall when the blighted building at 221-223 North Sixth Street, which adjoins the Sixth Street Shelter, became available. Community Action jumped at the chance to purchase it with the aim of expanding the program by five apartments. The capital campaign to achieve this aim has already raised over $300,000 of the total $710,000 capital budget needed.

An architect (The Architectural Studio in Allentown) has been engaged and plans are underway.  A scrim picturing the finished project will be going up soon to let the community know about our efforts.

The original intent was to renovate the existing structure, however, the architect and two potential general contractors advised taking down the building, keeping the foundation and basement.  It was ultimately decided this was the best course of action because it is not a historic building, it has serious structural problems, and it doesn’t lend itself to a configuration of apartments that best meet the need and fit the space available. In short, it is more cost effective and environmentally prudent to rebuild and in this way the shelter will be expanded by five apartments.

The old structure will be demolished in February and Habitat for Humanity will kick off construction with a framing blitz in April.  The project is scheduled to be completed in the fall with families moving in before the holidays.

Watch for further updates soon.