SCRANTON – Recent renovations to Saint Anthony’s Haven, Scranton’s only year-round emergency shelter for both men and women, will not only improve the comfort of guests but will allow the facility to continue serving people with disabilities.
The facility, at 409 Olive St., recently created a new handicap entrance/exit, renovated both the men’s and women’s restrooms and the common areas and installed new cabinets and flooring in the shelter’s kitchen area. In the next phase of the project, which will be partially supported by American Rescue Plan Act grant funding from Lackawanna County, the building’s roof will be replaced.
The most recent work was completed with the help of the city of Scranton, local charitable foundations, including The Moses Taylor Foundation and the Robert H. Spitz Foundation, and a national funder, The Pulte Family Charitable Foundation.
Harry Lyons, program supervisor of Saint Anthony’s Haven, said the new handicap entrance was a critical need after a sale of half the building that resulted in renovations by the new owner removed access to a previous point of entry.
“It was really important for us to establish this new handicap entrance so we can serve everybody. We have a number of people who use walkers and wheelchairs,” Lyons explained. “I recently got a call from the VA about a gentleman with no legs who uses a motorized wheelchair, so having this project finished will now ensure we have the ability to accommodate him.”
Saint Anthony’s Haven can safely accommodate 20 men and six women each night.
In addition to overnight shelter, the facility provides two meals per day, shower and laundry facilities and supportive services.
The number of individuals experiencing homelessness who rely on Saint Anthony’s Haven has returned to levels previously experienced before the COVID-19 pandemic.
In 2020, Saint Anthony’s Haven provided 4,371 individual nights of shelter to clients. In 2021, the number rose to 5,658, and in 2022 6,410 individual nights of shelter were provided.
“The Robert H. Spitz Foundation is focused on supporting programs that aim to break the cycle of poverty,” said Laura Ducceschi, president of the Scranton Area Community Foundation, which administers the Robert H. Spitz Foundation. “Supporting the renovation work at Saint Anthony’s Haven will help to better serve those populations in need of the facility’s services, and the Robert H. Spitz Foundation is proud to be able to help the community in this way.”
Robert H. Spitz Foundation funding also was used to replace the Olive Street entrance roof and help remove nine deteriorated and dangerous balconies from Saint James Manor, the building that houses Saint Anthony’s Haven.
The mission of Catholic Social Services of the Diocese of Scranton, which operates Saint Anthony’s Haven, is to serve individuals and families in poverty and advocate for dignity and self-sufficiency.
“We don’t want anyone left out in the street or left out in the cold,” Lyons added.
“We’re incredibly thankful for the grant funding we have received for this project,” Lyons stated. “Without the support of the community we would not be able to continue serving our brothers and sisters in the way that we do.”