FARMINGTON — Options for San Juan County's homeless are about to increase.
On Thursday, those involved in constructing a new 13,600-square-foot building called "A Path Home," along with project supporters, gathered at the building site at 520 Hydro Plant Road for a construction in progress tour.
The house's frame has been completed, and projects like electrical wiring and roofing are next on the agenda.
Those gathered were invited to write words of encouragement on the house's wooden frame to provide hopeful wishes for the shelter's future occupants.
"Our words will become part of the permanent foundation. The people who move in here will need the wishes to help them get well or get on their feet," said Four Corners Foundation Board President Matthew deKay.
The new building is the result of a collaboration between People Assisting The Homeless, or PATH, and the Four Corners Foundation, which spearheaded fundraising for the project.
Jonna Sharpe, PATH's executive director, said she hopes the shelter will be ready for occupancy by the end of the year.
The current PATH shelter has capacity for 36 people. The new building will be able to house 72.
Also, the new shelter will have family rooms and a play area, in addition to dorm rooms so families will not have to be separated, as is the case at the current shelter, where men and women sleep in separate rooms.
The facility will also be equipped with a large commercial kitchen, educational areas and common gathering spaces that can accommodate training seminars and large group meetings. An outdoor courtyard and playground for children will add to the home-like atmosphere.
To find out more about the A Path Home project or the Four Corners Foundation, visit www.fourcornersfoundation.org, or call 505-427-0507.
Like the current PATH shelter, the new home will be used primarily as a 90-day emergency shelter. During that time, staff will help connect the homeless with resources to stabilize their lives.
"But the new shelter will also have some transitional apartments that residents can apply to live in for up to two years, giving them a chance to live more independently," Sharpe said. "We often see people leave too soon. Subsidized housing can take two years to get, so with the apartments, they can transition up to two years while still saving money."
Sharpe said the nonprofit will sell the current PATH building, located on West Piñon Street, once the new facility is ready for occupancy.
At last week's event, Paul Briones, a Four Corners Foundation board member, thanked the community for the cooperative spirit that made the project happen.
"This is possible because of all of you," he said. "This will be more than giving a roof, a meal, a bed. We owe everybody dignity. What a peaceful place this is going to be to heal."
Elizabeth Broten, who completed the foundation's grant-writing for the project, said the foundation hopes to continue to identify worthy causes within the community.
"Our plan is to partner with other responsible organizations that need funding," she said.