The City of Allentown is addressing the need for more space for the homeless seeking shelter from the frigid temperatures by opening a new warming station at Alliance Hall at 6th and Chew Streets. The hall, which opened on November 1st, will be open every night from 7:00 pm to 7:00 am, regardless of the temperature. The building is also home to the Allentown Health Bureau.
Alliance Hall is open to men, women and families and will offer cots and blankets to all who stay there. There is a consistent intake process, so that the staff gets to know people by their name and what their needs are. Every person is assigned a case manager in order to help develop housing action steps to assist in finding a permanent home. There are trained supervisory staff and access to the Lehigh Valley Health Network Street Medicine Program. The facility will remain open every night until April 30th.
The announcement of the new warming station was made at a news conference by Dale W. Smith, Chairman of the Seasonal Sheltering Committee, Allentown Commission to End Chronic Homelessness, Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski, Lehigh County Executive Tom Muller and Lehigh Conference of Churches Executive Director Jack Felch. In attendance were some 50 representatives of social service agencies, churches and neighborhood groups.
“Our goal remains not just to provide a place for the homeless to go during the dead of winter, but to get them on the road to finding permanent shelter,” said Mayor Pawlowski. “As a society, the cost of getting the chronically homeless into housing is far less than the cost of their impact on the health and local law enforcement systems.”
The city is contributing $25,000 of CDBG funds to the winter sheltering program. In addition, the city is also providing Emergency Solutions Grant Program funding in the amounts of almost $34,000 to the Sixth Street Shelter, the Allentown Rescue Mission and the Salvation Army; $18,000 to the Lehigh Conference of Churches for the Linkage Outreach Program and $44,000 to the Lehigh Conference of Churches for the Pathways Rapid Re-housing Program.
Muller said the warming station serves a critical need, adding that the November 1 opening gives organizers a head start on preparing for the harsh winter.
According to Smith, “The 6th & Chew Winter Shelter is the culmination of many collaborative discussions among several community organizations — the city, the county, the Allentown Rescue Mission], the Salvation Army Hospitality House, the Lehigh Conference of Churches, Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley and faith-based organizations. The shelter will be administered by the Lehigh Conference of Churches.
“Last winter, the very harsh weather showed us that the community needed a bigger and better-equipped facility to ensure that our homeless population would not only have a place to sleep out of the inclement weather but also to ensure that they had the services they needed to help them get off the streets into permanent housing,” Smith said.