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Grass Valley, Calif. (March 1, 2022) – After two years of pandemic-related expanded operations to help more neighbors in need, Hospitality House’s homeless shelter, Utah’s Place, is under construction to create additional space to allow for greater social distancing and to continue to meet the needs of individuals in crisis. The expansion plan will increase the kitchen’s food storage footprint, provide additional outdoor space, and add an ADA lift. Construction broke ground in mid-February; intentions are to complete the project by June.
This one-time specialized project is made possible from California’s Department of Housing and Community Development for homeless shelters to help make them less congregate during the pandemic. Additional funding was provided by individual and business donors who gave during the ‘Fund the Freezer’ campaign in September of 2020. Thanks to community members who gave generously in support of Hospitality House expanding its refrigeration capacity, Hospitality House was able to order a much larger freezer unit (17’L X 7’W X 8’H), which is better suited to keep up with the increase in meal needs. The expanded size will also help the shelter accept more food donations and buy in bulk to stretch donated dollars further. When installation of the unit was delayed and the costs increased due to COVID-19, the freezer supplier, Commercial Cooling/Par Engineering, offered a 50 percent discount on installation, effectively erasing the cost inflation.
Adding additional food storage space to the kitchen is critical for Hospitality House’s efforts to aid individuals experiencing homelessness. In the 2020/2021 fiscal year, Hospitality House served 84,664 meals to Nevada County residents in need. Upon comparison of the 40,871 meals served pre-pandemic in 2019, the 107 percent increase illustrates the necessity of having significantly more food storage capacity. In that same period, 44 percent of guests at Utah’s Place reported living with a physical disability, making the ADA lift essential. Currently, guests with mobility limitations cannot utilize the stairs to access the second floor where the majority of beds and showers are located; instead, they are wheeled up a hill on the backside of the building to gain access. Having an ADA lift right onsite immediately increases safety and accessibility to beds, showers, and related services, making it easier on disabled guests to utilize both stories at any time. Lastly, the expanded deck, which will be triple the size of the preceding deck, will allow guests to easily enjoy fresh air and keep healthier distances, given the increase in space. The new deck will be constructed of concrete and steel, making it both low maintenance and fire-resistant.
“The pandemic has provided unique challenges for Hospitality House,” shared Tyson Powers, Hospitality House’s programs officer. “Since March of 2020, we have been operating at expanded capacity to provide shelter, food, emergency services, and more to as many individuals in crisis as safely as possible. Additionally, we’ve partnered with multiple agencies, including County of Nevada, to serve more individuals and families through motel rentals to ensure safety for as many folks as possible.”
Hospitality House will remain open to guests and operate at total capacity during the construction. However, due to safety concerns from active, ongoing construction, donations of goods have been suspended until the completion of construction. In-person donations are expected to resume by July 2022, unless otherwise indicated. Hospitality House asks individuals and businesses to please consider financial contributions during this time in lieu of physical goods to reduce the possibility of injury in a construction zone. Donations may be made at hhshelter.org, by calling 530-615-0852, or by sending a donation made payable to Hospitality House at 1262 Sutton Way, Grass Valley, CA 95945.