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For Almost Home, renovation is key to providing salvation

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By Crystal Nelson

BRIGHTON — Almost Home will be giving the public the opportunity to explore its newly renovated shelter for the homeless during an open house and ribbon cutting. The event is scheduled for 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. April 16 at the shelter at the corner of Bridge Street and Sixth Avenue. 

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The shelter received a new sprinkler and alarm system in August 2013 and underwent renovations from late November through mid-February to expand the number of families that could be served, from three to six. 

According to Almost Home Director Terry Moore, two new bedrooms were created on the main floor, with one of those bedrooms having an adjoining room for a family with many children, and the first-floor bathroom was renovated to be compliant with the American Disabilities Act. 

On the second floor, renovations were made to the bathroom, and an additional bedroom was created. A washer and dryer were added to the first floor, the kitchens on both floors were renovated and outfitted with new appliances, and all of the carpeting and floor coverings throughout the house were replaced. 

Because the house is 109 years old, Moore said they had to mitigate for asbestos, lead-based paint and radon. Work also had to be done to the structure of the house and plumbing was also done. A new air conditioning unit was installed, the roof was replaced  and the house got a new coat of paint.

“We can now accommodate up to 30 adults and kiddos,” Moore said. “And one of the things we don’t hammer home enough is that the majority of the people staying at the shelter are always children and that to get a room at the shelter, you need to be with children.”

Moore said Almost Home was able to provide 2,522 nights of shelter to 126 people — with the majority of them being children — during the 2013 fiscal year. The typical family stays at the shelter for 45 days, and shelter manager Michelle Smith said she works with each family to help them save their income, see what they could do to increase their income and, eventually, work with them to find housing and get them back on their feet.

  Moore said there’s a number of ways families become homeless, and that it’s not atypical for a family coming into the shelter to have contributed 70-plus percent of their income to housing before they were evicted. 

“And you can imagine if you’re paying 70 percent of your family income to housing, what a very small bump in the road it takes to put you upside down? A car doesn’t stop, it snows and you don’t get to work one day? A child is sick from school and one of the parents has to stay home,” he said. “We had somebody one day, their car didn’t start, and that started a cascade of events that ended up with them being homeless.”

Since the building was purchased by Almost Home 18 years ago, Moore said they’ve been able to serve 44,936 nights of shelter to 2,772 people, and Moore said he is excited to be able to serve even more families.

“I think we’ve always been proud to be able to offer this, but now it’s very state of the art and it’s almost like home,” he said.

The renovations were made possible through $50,000 in Community Development Block Grants funding from the city of Brighton, $50,000 in Community Development Block Grants from Adams County and an additional  $30,000 in funding from the State of Colorado. They also received $6,000 in furniture courtesy of American Furniture Warehouse and were able to purchase bedding and other necessities from donations made by local elementary school students.