The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

September 4, 2013

Catholic Charities to assist homeless

JOHNSTOWN — A new assistance program for local homeless people will be operated by an organization with a long history of helping those in need.

On Wednesday, the Cambria County Homeless Shelter committee announced the Roman Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown’s Catholic Charities chapter will oversee the interim and long-term operations, beginning on Oct. 1.

In-take services, shelter and case management will be provided.

A fully operational homeless facility is expected to be in place by December 2014.

“For the past 73 years, Catholic Charities has provided community-based services to people living in poverty throughout the eight counties of the diocese,” said Jean Johnstone, the local Catholic Charities executive director.

“Providing services to the homeless is our first new service line in almost a decade. We chose to pursue providing homeless services in Cambria County because it met our criteria for expansion: That is, it represented a critical community need, it does not duplicate a current service, there is significant community support for the project and most importantly, it expands our mission to serve those most in need.”

The committee that selected Catholic Charities consisted of Cambria County Redevelopment Authority Director Larry Custer, Human Services Coordinator

Christine Dumm; Community Foundation for the Alleghenies Executive Director Mike Kane, United Way of the Laurel Highlands President Bill McKinney, Maj. Joseph Pawlowski from The Salvation Army and Women’s Help Center Executive Director Susan Shahade.

“We are blessed to have such a community minded organization step forward,” said McKinney and Custer in a joint statement. “Running a homeless shelter is in no way a money-making venture; you have to have an organization with the mission, passion, leadership, and staff dedicated to help those in need.”

Cambria County needed a new plan to help homeless individuals after The Salvation Army was forced to close its shelter on Vine Street in downtown Johnstown for several reasons, including mounting debt and an inability to modernize the facility.

Dave Sutor is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/Dave_Sutor.

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