With the Society of St. Vincent de Paul Juneau opting not to continue hosting Junueau’s warming shelter after 508 continuous days of expanded operations through the pandemic, the city needed a new place for the unsheltered to go during Juneau’s coldest nights.
Resurrection Lutheran Church may pick up the baton now that the shelter is out of the Juneau Arts and Culture Center, where it’s been every day since the beginning of the pandemic.
“There was a last-minute understanding that there was no place for us to have it. We’re pursuing the request,” said RLC pastor Karen Perkins. “The real issue is, we can’t let our brothers and sisters die on the street if we can do something. We weren’t looking for this opportunity, but we believe we have to do.”
RLC, located on 10th Street and Glacier Avenue near the Hurff A. Saunders Federal Building, has both the location and the facilities to serve as the city scales the requirements for the warming shelter back down from their COVID doctrine, said Juneau chief housing officer Scott Ciambor in a phone interview.
“One of the RLC staff, Brad Perkins, worked at St. Vincent’s and helped run the warming shelter when it was at the public safety building,” Ciambor said. “The JACC was really ramped up as a COVID response. This is kind of reverting back to the normal contract terms of up to 28 beds. Given the opportunities at the new Glory Hall, and continued conversations with the operators, that should suffice.”
While he’s no longer in charge of hosting the warming shelter, SVDP general manager Dave Ringle, who assumed the position after Brad Perkins in 2020, said he’s looking forward to providing support for the new hosts.
“It came down to location and available locations downtown are few and far between. Resurrection is one of the few logical locations that could easily be brought up,” Ringle said. “I have warming shelter supplies that I’m looking forward to sharing with the new warming shelter.”
Ciambor said he had nothing but respect for SVDP as they shouldered the weight of running the shelter through the brunt of the pandemic.
“We have utmost respect for SVDP and their staff helping out in the crisis,” Ciambor said. “Going from running a cold weather shelter to a continuous shelter for 508 days is a lot.”
RLC is currently going through the conditional permitting process, Perkins said, as they seek to rapidly staff up the shelter and meet with neighbors, beginning on Oct. 27 at 7 p.m. when they’ll hold a hybrid virtual/in-person meeting at the church.
“We’ll hopefully be able to allay some concerns. We’ll give them anecdotes from our own experience,” said former SVDP general manager Brad Perkins, who will help run the RLC shelter, said in an interview. “St. Vincent’s has offered to share their expertise and any tools they have from doing. We are certainly working with and have been offered support by other shelter organizations.”
The Perkinses have about 45 years of experience doing shelter work, Brad Perkins said, as well as the original plan for SVDP’s warming shelter proposal, which should speed the standing-up process. The room intended for the warming shelter has also been recently refurbished, Bradley Perkins said, making it ideal for the intended use.
“It’s been recently renovated and it’s not currently being used,” Bradley Perkins said. “It’s ready to go.”
The conditional use permit was submitted Friday, Ciambor said. Now, Juneau’s Community Development Department will process it as RLC spins up its process.
• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at (757) 621-1197 or email@example.com.