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Abandoned or closed municipal and school buildings create all sorts of challenges for the communities they inhabit — they can be fire hazards, they can attract thieves, and they can become unsightly or rundown. So some cities are getting creative about what to do with these buildings and how to use them in ways that benefit the community.
This week, for instance, the Chicago City Council zoning committee voted to convert two empty school buildings on Chicago’s South Side into temporary homeless shelters, according to Block Club Chicago. As Chicago’s homeless population is growing rapidly due to the coronavirus pandemic, additional capacity is needed. And these two buildings offer a good opportunity to meet two goals at once. The two buildings combined will provide additional capacity of about 540 beds.
The biggest benefit to using these school buildings is that the city won’t have to pay rent, as it did when it converted facilities operated by the YMCA and the Salvation Army. Grants provided by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will help pay other costs at the two new shelters, like for food and installing showers.
This post was submitted by Greg Zimmerman, editor, Building Operating Management and FacilitiesNet.com.