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United Way of Lancaster County


City Council postpones approval of city-county homelessness collaboration

The long brick building is 134 S. Prince St., the former Neighborhood Services building. The yellow building to its right is 132 S. Prince St. (Photo: Tim Stuhldreher)

City Council decided on Tuesday to delay action on a resolution authorizing a partnership with Lancaster County to expand homelessness services.

Under an intergovernmental agreement, Lancaster city and the Lancaster County Redevelopment Authority — which houses the offices of the Lancaster County Homelessness Coalition — would partner on two projects: Adding another 40 emergency shelter beds within the city by this fall, and fitting out the former Neighborhood Services Building at 134-36 S. Prince St. as a hub for homelessness services.

The plan calls for the city to contribute $1.6 million from its American Rescue Plan Act funds, the last tranche of the $10 million City Council has allocated for affordable housing and homelessness prevention.

The county redevelopment authority approved the agreement last month. City Council was set to do the same this week, but agreed to table the matter until April 25 to give city administrators and their county counterparts more time to work out several details.

At City Council’s April 3 committee meeting, council members had expressed interest in having the Lancaster County commissioners sign off on the agreement, rather than just the redevelopment authority, to ensure the county will commit the resources needed to meet the agreement’s goals; and adding language specifying clear deadlines for meeting project milestones.

Under federal law, ARPA money must be allocated by the end of 2024 and spent by the end of 2026; the last thing the city wants is to lose any funding due to delays in implementation on the county side.

Adding 40 shelter beds would double the total in the city, not counting the shelter at Water Street Mission. The target date for opening 134-35 S. Prince St. is spring 2024; it is to have a minimum of 60 beds, potentially a mix of emergency shelter and transitional housing.

The county redevelopment authority acquired the South Prince property from Milagro House earlier this year.

The city’s $1.6 million would be divided 50-50 between the two initiatives: $800,000 toward the short-term addition of shelter beds and $800,000 toward the South Prince Street hub project.