Friday, May 24, 2024

The Salvation Army near Central Square in Cambridge, seen in November. (Photo: Marc Levy)

Cambridge has stepped in to save a 35-bed homeless shelter at the Salvation Army in Central Square, according to a memo to be discussed at Monday’s meeting of the City Council.

The shelter’s final night was to be March 31 after the organization opted out of state grant funding that risked removing control over who would be allowed in, the Salvation Army branch’s Maj. Douglas Hart said in November. The shelter could not deny entry based on a criminal record, for instance, which concerned managers because the same building offers day care for children.

Instead of closing April 1, the shelter can now stay open without interruption.

“The city is taking on the current funding of the Salvation Army shelter because of the significant loss to the community that would result from the closure of these current shelter beds,” said the memo from the office of City Manager Yi-An Huang. 

The state grant brought in more than $700,000, Hart said. 

That expense now falls to the city, where staff have been in communication with the state about funding and “will continue to collaborate to seek sustainable funding from the state or other sources to replace or supplement city funds,” the City Manager’s Office said. “There is no current guarantee” that the state will be able to fund the shelter again as the Salvation Army asks – with control over who comes in.

City funds will support a continued daily lunch and a clinic run by Healthcare for the Homeless, the memo said, while a city team will help shelter guests find permanent housing.

Cambridge has 500 people in need of shelter on any given night, according to a January 2022 report by a city-run Ad Hoc Working Group on Homelessness led by city councillor Marc McGovern.