Cannon Shelter cleared to open second level, now able to help 50 more people

Since the Cannon Shelter opened Saturday, Jewels Helping Hands said they’ve had to turn away about 80 people because of lack of space.

However, the City cleared the Cannon Shelter to open the second level of their facility, allowing them to help 50 more people come 5 p.m. check-in.

Initially, the Cannon Shelter was open for only 30 people to sleep, because the second floor was not up to code.

The City released the following statement on Tuesday:

The safety improvements have been completed and passed inspection. The space is now approved for a maximum occupancy of 98 including staff and volunteers. As the operator, Jewels Helping Hands determines when they will increase capacity and for how many.

There were contractors working at the shelter Tuesday, putting up exit signs, a door and some lights. With the second level opened up, they’ll be able to help nearly 50 more people, bringing that total up to 85 people that can sleep at the shelter.

Once fully opened, the shelter will be able to hold up to 120 people.

The atmosphere was quiet and calm at the shelter while construction was going on.

People minded their own business and just appreciated being in the warmth the shelter offered.

It’s not easy for some clients to see others getting turned away.

“I feel bad. I would give up my spot in a second, you know, but then, at the same time, you’ve got to be diligent about yourself and your own situation. I’ve given my spot many times for others. The winter is hard,” said Sheila Floe, a Cannon Shelter client.

Floe and her boyfriend were two of the 30 that went in on Saturday when the shelter first opened.

“Prior to the shelter opening, we were sleeping, we slept on the side of the All Saints Lutheran Church,” Floe said.

For two years, she has been homeless.

“I walked out of a relationship I felt I was being disrespected in, and I chose and thought that I would rather live homeless than thought I’d be disrespected anymore by anybody,” Floe explained.

The winters are the hardest, but for now, that’s not something she has to worry about.

“It’s been great. All the homeless people that have come in here, for the most part, there hasn’t been any big problems whatsoever, even minor ones really,” she said.

As the holidays approach, although she has a warm place to stay, it’s bittersweet.

“Everybody comes from somewhere, everybody probably had a family situation at one time or another. For me, it’s a little difficult,” she said.

Nonetheless, she’s happy to have a bed.

“I’m just very grateful and thankful beyond words,” she said.