TWIN FALLS — With a rapidly swelling stream of people in need of help, Valley House Homeless Shelter plans two major expansions this year and next year.
Sharon Breshears, the nonprofit’s executive director, is working on securing permitting, zoning and funds to renovate a rundown house on Rose Street into a second shelter for single women, this one housing 12 women. The Twin Falls City Council on Jan. 9 waived an estimated $2,280 in building permit fees for the renovation.
Breshears estimates the project will cost $120,000.
“We are hoping to start this year right after we zone it,” she said. “We have grants out on it.”
She’s applying for grants from the Twin Falls-based Janice Seagraves Family Foundation, cheese maker Glanbia Foods and others.
By early February, Valley House hadn’t yet applied for the building permit. Its application for a special use permit — required because shelter homes are considered special use homes — was scheduled for a hearing before the city planning and zoning board in mid-February, said Jonathan Spendlove, a senior planner with Twin Falls Planning and Zoning.
In 2018, the next phase of Valley House’s expansion will be breaking ground on new family transitional housing. Its plan: two five-plexes to be built next door to the Rose Street house newly renovated as a women’s shelter.
Valley House already has the land for the five-plexes. In 2015 it purchased property where tiny rental houses dubbed The Cottages had been condemned, and it later demolished those houses. But it doesn’t yet have cost estimates for the five-plex project, which it hopes will be funded by grants, donations and sponsors.
Breshears and her staff are working to gather donations for Valley House’s annual auction and banquet, set for 5:30-9 p.m. April 28 at Canyon Crest Dining and Event Center. The event is open to the public; tickets are $40. Last year, the banquet raised $110,000 for Valley House’s general budget.
“That’s my biggest fundraiser of the year,” Breshears said. “We are doing well. People have been very generous.”
Last year, the shelter helped more than 5,000 people including women, families and men. In 2012, Valley House helped 374.
Not all of those 5,000 people spent the night under a Valley House roof, however. The total includes people who came in for food boxes, for example, or needed money for bus tickets.
And while single men are not allowed to stay at the shelter, more and more are showing up for help. Valley House works with other organizations such as Mustard Seed, Renaissance House and The Salvation Army so it never has to turn anyone away, Breshears said.