Renovation work is underway at Share House after it was damaged in a fire two months ago, but it seems the shelter’s reopening date has not been nailed down.
While the first week of October was at one point eyed for moving people back in, that’s quickly approaching.
A few bedrooms have been completed at the men’s shelter at 1115 W. 13th St. in downtown Vancouver, which has been closed since July. The Vancouver Fire Marshal’s Office determined that an improperly discarded cigarette sparked a fire late on July 30 in a third-floor bedroom. The two men who share the room were not inside at the time. Although the fire was confined to the room, water from the sprinkler system and responding fire trucks damaged every floor in the shelter.
Drying out the building took a couple of weeks, and restoration work has been happening since then.
The fire displaced 58 men. Some of them have been staying a few blocks away at St. Paul Lutheran Church, which will turn into a winter shelter come November — creating a possible hard deadline for completing work at Share House. Others may be camping or staying with friends and some have fast-tracked their path to permanent housing.
“The timing happened to work out,” said Molly Evjen, director of volunteers and community resources at Share, the nonprofit that owns and operates Share House.
On Friday, she was overseeing a group of volunteers with H.B. Fuller and RSV Building Solutions who were putting up a wall paneling material that’s easy to clean and protects against moisture. Nowland Floor Covering Inc. was installing flooring.
Share spokeswoman Jessica Lightheart wasn’t sure when residents would return and whether that would be staggered as parts of the building are fixed; some of the men are considered shelter residents while others are part of a transitional housing program.
A leak in the dining room unrelated to the fire has to be fixed before Share House resumes its hot meals program that serves nearly 92,000 meals annually to those in need. Holley Walhood, Share’s food service coordinator, said they’ve been serving sack lunches twice daily out of Share House and have been preparing crock pot meals at St. Paul.
It’s possible residents will move back to Share House before the kitchen is back online, in which case they will be served crock pot meals and microwavable food.
The former Share House, built in the late 1800s, was destroyed by arson in 1996 and rebuilt in 1999. It is the only year-round shelter for single men in Clark County.