NASHUA — The Nashua Soup Kitchen and Shelter is hoping to start renovations this summer to convert the former Sacred Heart School building into an emergency homeless shelter.
“We will be consolidating all of our emergency shelter operations to this one building,” said Michael Reinke, executive director of the Nashua Soup Kitchen and Shelter.
His organization previously signed a 40-year lease with the Diocese of Manchester to utilize the former Catholic school building at 35 Spring St. Since then, about $3.7 million has been raised for the renovations.
“It is probably, at the end of the day, a $5 million project,” said Reinke. “We still have about $1.3 million to go, and if people can help us bridge the gap, that would be awesome.”
If renovations begin this summer, he is hopeful that the new emergency shelter, which will include 91 beds, will open its doors in July of 2021. Currently, the NSKS utilizes two residential buildings that offer about 45 emergency shelter beds.
“We are going to double that, and we will be offering beds in a place that we need it most,” Reinke said on Thursday.
All of the emergency shelter operations will be consolidated to the new site, however the NSKS facility will remain on Quincy Street. The four-story, 20,000-square-foot building on Spring Street was constructed in 1893, and is the oldest standing Catholic elementary school in Nashua.
Architectural designs have already been drafted for the project, which include a fourth-floor area for longer term residents, a second-floor area reserved for children’s play, educational space for classes or meetings, third-floor living for families and a restricted living section for single-men.
“This provides so many more resources for those in need,” said Reinke. “We hope to provide the educational resources that will not just get people so they are not in a shelter any longer, but actually get them to have the resources that they will not come back.”
Single men, single women and families with children will all be welcome at the facility, he explained. Aside from converting classrooms into residential space, Reinke said the renovations also include the remediation of lead paint and asbestos, as well as the installation of an elevator to make the facility handicap accessible.
The NSKS is leasing the space for $1 a year, although the shelter is responsible for all of the renovations and maintenance of the building, he explained.
The new shelter has received funding commitments from the Federal Housing Trust Fund, New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority, New Hampshire Community Development Authority, Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston, a community development block grant from the city and local funders such as Eaton and Berube, Merrimack Savings Bank, Brady Sullivan and more.
Anyone interested in making a financial donation toward the project is urged to call 889-7770 for information.