Van Wert’s first drop-in homeless shelter plans to open soon

Local News

VAN WERT, Ind. (WANE) — A new shelter in Van Wert is looking to address homelessness in the area.

According to men’s shelter Haven of Hope, Van Wert’s homelessness is a lot less visible than homelessness in larger communities.

“It’s definitely not what you see in Fort Wayne or Lima or any big city,” said board member Natalie Riethman. Mostly homelessness in Van Wert County is couch surfing and sleeping in your car.”

The project originated out of a call from area churches to talk about what could be done to help people facing homelessness. They acquired an empty building at 233 N Market Street and spent a year reconstructing the inside of the building to fit their needs. Along with a waiting area, there is a large sleeping room that can accommodate ten cots. They also added plumbing to the building so they can provide two restrooms and one shower room as well as a washer and dryer.

When the shelter opens, it will be the first shelter in the area that will be able to immediately provide a cot to as many as ten men facing homelessness in the city.

“Our doors will open at a certain time, which I believe is seven,” said board member Chris Wannemacher. “Our max is ten men but they will have to come in, go through an intake process but so we don’t have the traffic outside or any loitering, they’ll just have to learn that our doors are open from seven to seven-thirty, lights will come back on by six [in the morning] and they’ll have to be gone by eight o’cklock.”

Haven of Hope also hopes to help connect the men with resources to find a more stable living situation.

“We’ll be able to provide them with resources and organizations to get them back up on their feet and hopefully make a difference in their lives,” said Reithman.

“Job and Family Services, local company Love, Inc., a nonprofit that helps people who needs things so we have a lot of resources at our hands,” added Wannemacher.

Right now, the shelter is only providing beds for men, but they say a shelter for women and children is next on their list. They also hope to open a longer-term facility in the future.

Haven of Hope is holding an open house event on Sunday, October 11 from 2-4:00 pm where people will be able to go inside and check out the building. Wannemacher said they are working with the Van Wert County Health Department when it comes to COVID-19 protocols.

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