A portion of Sunrise Apartments in downtown Bismarck will serve as an emergency homeless shelter.
Apartment owner Taylor Rash said United Way will be leasing a portion of the four-story, 74-unit apartment building on Third Street, formerly known as Grandma's House until it was purchased by new owners in 2014.
Rash said the building is already at 70 percent occupancy before the emergency homeless shelter lease.
The shelter portion of the building will be in a secured wing, said Jena Gullo, Executive Director Missouri Slope Areawide United Way, and will be drug and alcohol free. The building owners are cutting the organization a discount on rent of 13 or 14 rooms - 10 for men and three or four for women and children.
The apartments in the building are all efficiency units with a bedroom, bathroom and closet — no kitchens. Rash said unit sizes vary from 300 to 600 square feet. Rental agreements for the rest of the building are on a month-to-month basis with rates varying according to room size, either $500, $600 or $700 a month.
Gullo said United Way is furnishing the rooms with donated beds. The rooms will house between two and six individuals, depending on their size.
United Way has been housing about 60 people on average each night - men, women and children - up from about 18 per night when they started in October, following the closure of Ruth Meier’s Hospitality House emergency men’s shelter.
The owners of the apartment have been renovating the units and lobby, replacing carpet, laying tile and painting, Rash said. Gullo said area businesses have been donating items for the lobby remodel, like House of Color’s donation of flooring.
Gullo said United Way doesn’t have set date for transitioning to the apartment building, but when they do, intake of those in need of shelter will be moved to the building and will take place at a different time.
When the move takes place, United Way will also be increasing the services offered, both for the homeless and for other residents of the building who may wish to take advantage of the aid.
Gullo said they have hired a case manager who will be on hand. They will serve meals three nights a week. They will connect people with treatment and counselors as needed. They will also be providing aid in finding employment.
United Way is planning to operate the shelter until at least July, at which time they hope to transfer responsibility to a permanent operator.
“We don’t know what the best longterm solution is going to be,” Gullo said. “We stopped the bleeding, we got people sheltered, and now we’re looking to the future.”
United Way is covering the cost with donations given to the organization that were designated by donors for use housing the homeless. The organization is still in need of other donations, like cleaning supplies and hygiene items that will keep their costs down.
The Sunrise building has served a number of purposes in its long history. Built in 1916, it started as the Van Horn Hotel, according to the State Historical Society of North Dakota.
Later it became the Prince Hotel, hosting famous visitors, such as Eleanor Roosevelt, Shirley Temple, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans.
For a while it was known as the Kensington, said Lorna Meidinger, architectural historian for the State Historical Society. There was a time when an Orthodox Presbyterian church met in its ballroom. It became the Karrington Assisted Living center and then, in 2002, Grandma's House, an apartment complex that was known for being willing to rent to those with felonies and sex offense records when few other places would.