JEFFERSONVILLE — After months of discussion, the city's only homeless shelter has officially changed hands, though the sale of the property itself is still in the works.
On Friday, Park Memorial United Methodist Church entered a three-year lease with Haven House Services, Inc., for the shelter which has been in operation in the city for more than three decades. The church took control of the shelter at noon that day, renaming it Catalyst Rescue Mission.
Park Memorial pastor Jim Moon will serve as the organization's executive director, with Paul Stensrud, founder of homeless outreach organization Jesus Cares at Exit Zero, handling the main day-to-day operations. Barb Anderson, who filled both roles for more than 30 years before the recent lease agreement, will stay on through Feb. 1, working with the new team to help in the transition. Anderson will then take on more of an advocate role within the community.
Talks of the church taking over management of the shelter began several months ago between Moon and Anderson. A down payment of more than $20,000 was made by the church in August to pay off a sewer bill Haven House owed the city. Though the church and Haven House Services are still working through the sale, Moon said the conversation shifted about a month ago to start the lease ahead of time, in part to help secure funding for the upcoming year.
"It's something that needed to happen so we could do the leg work in the community that's necessary to secure the funding," he said, adding that they can also get started on programming for Catalyst Rescue Mission. Part of that will mean hiring a full-time case manager. As of Tuesday, the shelter population was at 128.
"We need to get a person working on each individual case to help them find housing permanency," he said. "That's what our goal is — to not ever be homeless again."
A team will be talking with all residents this week, doing intake evaluations just to find out all the circumstances of people currently staying there, to determine which route to take to best assist them, what kinds of things could be available, and what the barriers are they might have to work through.
Moon said they want to find out things like "these are the 10 people that we can get worked on immediately and see the best results," and "these are the people that are going to take longer and we're going to have to do a marathon rather than a sprint," he said.