After a brief public hearing Monday night, the city is set to apply for a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) on behalf of Grace’s Place, an emergency shelter that cares for children when their families are experiencing difficult situations.
Grace’s Place is in the process of purchasing the former Rainbow Activity Center (now Rainbow Abilities Center) building on North Christina Avenue. The Rainbow Abilities Center moved to a space in the Prairie Dell Plaza near the Great 8 Cinema.
Executive Director Amanda Jones said children from birth to age 18 can stay at the facility for up to 30 days at a time for a host of reasons, including homelessness, domestic violence, child abuse or if parents are unable to care for their children. A home in Washington serves up to eight children at a time from any community. It will remain open.
“If their parents or caregivers are experiencing something where it’s not safe for them to have the kids, they can stay with us,” Jones said.
Grace’s Place executives have been working with the city to get a site in Union for several years. Because it’s the county seat, it’s more centrally located in Franklin County and offers many social services.
The Union facility will care for six to eight children at a time, Jones said.
In November 2015, Grace’s Place purchased property from the city of Union at the corner of Grant Street and Union Avenue where it hoped a new facility could be built.
After the purchase, it was discovered that a portion of the lot was deed restricted after being bought by the city during a flood buyout, therefore it could not be developed. The city of Union purchased the property back from Grace’s Place at that time.
City Administrator Russell Rost read through a list of items that need to be addressed for the grant, a needs assessment, none of which raised any concerns for aldermen.
“This is to show that we have the infrastructure to support the project, which I feel confident we do,” Rost said.
The grant, due March 30, will be for $281,700, which includes the purchase and renovation of the property, engineering fees, city staff man-hours and miscellaneous costs associated with the project.
Grace’s Place originated in 2010 and opened its doors in 2011. It has seen continued growth over the past three years of 30 to 60 percent, Jones said.
“We continue to have a wait list of families we can’t serve because we don’t have room,” she added. “To add another facility that would serve at least six children is huge for our community.”
Jones said homelessness continues to be a problem and some families are being sent outside of the county for resources. The new facility will allow an opportunity to serve more families.
Last year 161 children were served a total of 958 instances.