December 16, 2021 - The City of Fort Wayne today announced history was made when St. Joseph Missions Women’s Shelter was opened. The shelter addresses a key service gap because it is the first 24/7/365 emergency shelter expressly for single women who are experiencing homelessness.
The City of Fort Wayne today celebrated this milestone at St. Joseph Missions Women’s Shelter, 3505 Lake Avenue with a special ceremony.
The City realized there was a need for an overnight shelter that serves single women experiencing a housing crisis. The existing shelters for single mothers accompanied by their children, single women currently struggling with drug/alcohol addiction, and unaccompanied women in crisis due to domestic violence address critical issues. However, social-service organizations found securing emergency housing for single women who fell outside these parameters challenging. St. Joseph Missions discovered this shortage through its extensive research.
The opening of the shelter was made possible with support from the Region 3 Planning Council on Homelessness, a community eager to address this urgent need, and with guidance and significant funding through the City’s Community Development Division's Office of Housing and Neighborhood Services. As a result, St. Joseph Missions’ 6-year dream came to life.
St. Joseph Missions Women’s Shelter is currently hosting 14 guests. The shelter team also provides supportive services and connects guests to over 20 community partners, all with the goal of each guest achieving self-sufficiency and fulfilling her glorious potential. Two women who have overcome their own homeless crises serve on the board.
According to the Hoosier Housing Coalition, an upwards of 300,000 households across the state are potentially at risk of eviction due to challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, the City has seen a significant increase in requests for eviction prevention assistance.
In some cases, the requests to local nonprofits for financial assistance have increased 270% over the last year. Most calls were related to homelessness, rental assistance or questions about assistance applications. The City is in the process of initiating a Homelessness Strategic Plan that will include an assessment of the existing resources provided to the community. It will identify gaps, set communitywide goals, and help the City develop strategies to better address homelessness.
Funds from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development were used to assist St. Joseph Missions in the renovations. Many local businesses and community volunteers donated architectural/engineering expertise, skilled labor, and essential materials to bring this vision to fruition.