Family Services Plans Buildout, Redevelopment of Levittown Shelter
The Bucks County Emergency Homeless Shelter in Bristol Township operated by, Family Services Association (FSA), is planning to expand, overhaul, and build new facilities
the nonprofit has been working on a plan to expand the shelter and provide better services to those experiencing housing displacement, officials say.
“We have been thinking about how to make the shelter better,” said Julie Dees, the CEO of FSA, during an appearance at the October Bristol Township Council meeting. She was on hand seeking Council’s approval to submit a Statewide Local Share
Assessment Grant to the Department of Community and Economic Development
(DCED) for the Shelter in the amount of $ 1 million which they did.
Dees said, the shelter currently serves about 80 people, including children and has a wait list of more than 200 people.
The men’s dorm barely fits 20 guests, with cots lining right and left walls, and a narrow walking path leads to three bathrooms. The open space floor plan for the women’s side of the facility, where children stay, also presents all all sorts of issues, which the redevelopment will help solve with the creation of private rooms for guests, `Dees said.
The redevelopment plans consist of constructing a new two-story structure in front of the current site. The first floor would be for medical offices, case management and childcare services, the second floor would house 30 individual rooms with bathrooms for guests.
The first floor of the building would be open to the public, she said.
The current shelter would remain open while renovations take place to increase living spaces also. It will also continue to house the cafeteria the largest common area space in the facility.
The current communal living design is “not ideal,” and FSA wants to create a more “dignified” guest experience, Dees said.
Dees said about $7 million is already secured for the project, with the total cost expected to be in the $10 to $15 million range.
“There’s such a need for a new and improved version of the shelter,” she said.
Dees also pointed out The new space would allow FSA to lease out parts of the first floor of the new building to bring in revenue. Adding the shelter often operates at yearly loss of about $385,000.00 due to lack of onsite billable service offerings.
With the anticipated new space, FSA will be able to provide on site many of the mental health substance abuse related services it provides at their Langhorne branch, Dee said.
The proposed new building still has to go through the land development approval. FSA took over operations of the shelter 2012 from the American Red Cross.
FSA plans to hold a community meeting at the Levittown Library on November 17 for a more detailed discussion on the redevelopment project.
This is Bucks County’s only 24/7 shelter and is located in Bristol Township’s Levittown section. The property around and adjacent to the Shelter that’s owned and operated by Bucks County is also being redeveloped. Ground was broken on that project in September
A possible indirect benefit for FSA’s expansion project is the where the new two-story building would be, now the parking lot. Homeless folks who are not “guests” at the Shelter often park their vehicles in the facilities lot. Oftentimes living out of cars, trucks, vans or often abandoning them in the lot. It has been an issue for staff to deal with in the past, officials have said.
The project is expected to take about three years to complete, Dees said, once all the funding and approvals are secured.
“We have been thinking about how to make the Bucks County Emergency Homeless Shelter better,” said Dees.
The new building and renovation of the existing facility would be part of a rebound for the site, which sits a few yards away from the new Lower Bucks County Government Services Center.
Council President Craig Bowen and Councilperson Patrick Antonello both spoke in support of the project.
The proposed new building still has to go through the land development process.
The Family Service Association plans to hold a community meeting at the Levittown Library on November 17.