LACONIA —By next winter, homeless families may be able to find shelter, as a purchase-and-sales agreement has been entered into for the sprawling white home at 200 Court St.
Belknap House President Colleen Garrity said she hopes the shelter can open on Oct. 1.
She said a group of interested citizens and nonprofit agencies met regularly during the past few years came up with the idea of the Belknap House because over the past five years the number of homeless families has risen dramatically.
Right now, the only place for homeless families is the Carey House, which is operated by the Salvation Army. There is room in the Carey House for only three families, leaving the rest few options in the Lakes Region.
Garrity said the group has reached out to a number of local banks and other lenders in a search for grants and/or loans that would help them raise the $250,000 needed for the purchase of the house and for the necessary safety upgrades that would be needed.
She said a sprinkler system must be installed, the building needs a kitchen and the bathrooms need renovating.
Garrity added the building must be compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act. She said the home must have 200 square feet per person, meaning that it can house up to 19 people at one time.
There are also a number of fundraisers ongoing – the biggest one being an effort to raise $25,000 to match a gift in that amount from an anonymous donor. A handcrafted pendant designed and made by a local jeweler is being raffled off. Tickets can be bought at The Studio on Canal Street or at St. Andre Bessette Church offices.
The agency is also raising money by selling Christmas trees in the lot next to Coldwell Banker Realty on Court Street. She said the trees are fresh, and grown and harvested by a Colebrook farmer whose trees grow both in New Hampshire and Vermont.
"We are very excited and are getting a lot of community recognition," Garrity said.
CUTLINE ( Belknap House) This house has recently been placed under a purchase and sale agreement with the Belknap House - a local non-for-profit that plans on creating a winter shelter for homeless families. (Laconia Daily Sun Photo – Gail Ober)