Unused Ogden fire station could transform into day center for homeless families

Monday , March 20, 2017 - 6:58 PM

CATHY MCKITRICK, Standard-Examiner Staff

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been corrected to fully identify Nancy Davis-Broderick. The Stanard-Examiner regrets the error.

OGDEN — A defunct city fire station could soon transform into a temporary daytime home base for homeless families trying to get back on their feet.

Family Promise of Ogden hopes to create a day center in Ogden where homeless families can shower, eat, receive mail, do laundry and use computers to search for jobs and housing. The nonprofit first approached the city about the idea in January 2016, and eventually a retired fire station at 340 Washington Blvd. was pegged as a possibility.

At a work session two weeks ago, city staffers went before the Ogden City Council to propose a zero-cost lease of the building. Though renting the building would be free, daily maintenance, snow removal, lawn care and utility payments would fall to Family Promise.

The nonprofit would staff the center from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. with a director and professional social worker, along with volunteers to cook and serve meals, play with children and help with kids’ homework.

Up to 14 homeless individuals would frequent the proposed resource center, transported by van from one of a dozen area churches where they’d been fed and housed the night before. 

RELATED: Family Promise to begin hosting homeless families in churches soon

During a city council work session in early March, Brandon Cooper — deputy director for Ogden City Community & Economic Development — explained the potential benefits of offering Family Promise a zero-cost lease on part of old Fire Station No. 3.

“It would be a good temporary location,” Cooper said, adding that the 364-day lease from April 1, 2017, to March 30, 2018, would help Family Promise of Ogden get established.

In exchange for the zero-cost lease, Ogden City would gain from having a segment of the homeless population able to tap much-needed services in what would otherwise be a vacant structure, Cooper said.

“It gives an eyes-on-the-street, lights-on type of situation for this building so it doesn’t become an attraction for crime and other things,” Cooper said. 

In the coming months, the city would help Family Promise find a more permanent, suitable location for its day center. A portion of the old firehouse would continue to be used for city storage.

Amy Sue Mabey, policy analyst for the Ogden City Council, said property owners in the vicinity are trying to figure out how the building’s new function will fit into their neighborhood. 

According to Nancy Davis-Broderick, the organization conducts thorough criminal record and background checks on the people it serves through its centers. That includes looking into past drug use and abuse.

“They really want the highest success rates possible with the clientele they’re bringing in,” Mabey said. “And most of the time they’re people who have fallen into a poor situation, and they’re trying to help them out of that.”

Davis-Broderick said they’d been gearing up to launch the Ogden area program for two years, and with the city council’s approval, FPO could open its doors in early May.

“These buildings are already out there not being used, so the idea of it is phenomenal,” Davis-Broderick said. “We have volunteers. Everybody can do a little bit, and nobody has to do a ton to make a big difference.”

Family Promise — an interfaith nonprofit launched in 1986 — has locations across the country, including one in Salt Lake City. For 21 years, Family Promise of Salt Lake has operated a similar day center program the Ogden group hopes to replicate in Weber County.

According to fpsl.org, the Salt Lake organization has served over 800 families since 1995. In 2015 its work assisted 34 families (120 individuals) who had an average stay of 42 days, with 94 percent stabilizing and graduating into their own housing. 

The Ogden City Council is holding a public hearing on the proposal at 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 21, and will later vote on how to proceed. The hearing will take place in the third floor council chambers of the Ogden Municipal Building at 2549 Washington Blvd.

Contact reporter Cathy McKitrick at 801-625-4214 or cmckitrick@standard.net. Follow her on Twitter at @catmck. 

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