Salvation Army Social Services tells CHS it is expanding its facility on 1101 Pike.
“We’re working through the plans to add an additional 14 beds so we can help more people off the street,” said Capt. Dana Libby, the director of the Capitol Hill branch. “The idea is let’s get more people in here, and let’s get them a better environment and better access.”
The Salvation Army, with its military-like structure and official status as a religious organization has taken increasing heat over tolerance issues and criticism from some corners on the Salvation Army’s stance on gay rights. Libby says at the Capitol Hill Salvation Army, the goal is to give everybody a place to gather. “The goal is for it to become a town square kind of space,” he said.
The 1946-built building will be renovated to add more bunks, showers and private space to the women’s drop-in shelter, as well as provide more room for a food bank kitchen. The Salvation Army is submitting the final plans to the city in June and is “ready to roll” as soon as they are approved.
The 22 beds in the women’s shelter are currently all in one room — but the proposed renovation will relocate them to a different floor of the building, where bunks can be shifted to private, separate rooms.
[mappress mapid=”53″]”Instead of having them all in one room, we’ll be able to separate them so you can put all the snorers in one room, you can have some on one side if they have a cold—it just gives you a whole sense of being a little closer to normalcy,” Libby said. “We want to help people get the rest and stability they need and help them start planning for the future.”
People received assistance from the Pike Salvation Army location more than 40,000 times last fiscal year. Everything from food, shelter and rental assistance were provided by the organization’s Capitol Hill branch, which has been in the neighborhood since 1997.
The organization moved into what was formerly a Ben Bridge Jewelers when the building was donated in 1994 by Herbert Bridge, one of the two brothers that built the brand into the national chain of stores.
“The giant safe vault is still here,” food bank coordinator Rebecca Phillips said. “We keep vegetables there now instead of diamonds.”
The food bank on site is locally sourced, and recently started a spice mix program to add some zest to their free meals.
The Salvation Army on Pike is also home to a special Domestic Violence unit where victims get help avoiding homelessness.
“Anybody that walks through the door and says ‘hey I’m a mess, can you help me through it,’ we makes sure to take the time to help them in every way we can. We will get your food, we will help you find money to pay your bills, we will use all the resources we have to assist you,” Libby said.