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Pittsfield's 'Pearl Street Shelter' Opening Soon
By Brittany Polito, iBerkshires Staff
05:08AM / Monday, September 11, 2023
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The shelter at First Methodist Church is expected to open this month after several years of planning.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The shelter at First Methodist Church is soon to open with a straightforward name that has a deeper meaning.

ServiceNet's Director of Shelter and Housing Erin Forbush told the Homelessness Advisory Committee last week that the new facility is planned to open around the end of the month as the Pearl Street Shelter.

When people get to know the shelter and its staff, the hope is that it is referred to as "The Pearl."

Because the entrance to the shelter is on Pearl Street, the name was proposed to eliminate confusion because the building's frontage is on Fenn Street.  There is also a sentimental interpretation.  

"I would like to call it the Pearl because a pearl is a treasure," Forbush said. "And I'm hoping that everybody that stays there is able to kind of find their own treasure in themselves when they do leave and hopefully that is leaving to housing."

She added that pearls are created in an oyster with an irritant, explaining that she is affectionately calling herself the irritant that will hopefully create the pearls.

"We are hoping to create a really nice community there," Forbush said. "We will be a 40-bed, year-round shelter at that location."

ServiceNet will manage the shelter and hopes to be in by the end of the month.  The furniture is expected to be delivered next week and there are a couple of construction projects left.

There have been suggestions about creating a mural that coincides with the name.

"Hopefully in the next few weeks we will be in our new location," Forbush said. "We will say thank you and goodbye to St. Joe's and be in our next chapter as we work to help every out in the community."

The 6,000-square-foot emergency shelter has been in the planning process since 2020 when its location was approved. It will replace the shelter at the former St. Joseph's High School that opened soon after the pandemic began.

Last year, $354,500 of American Rescue Plan Act funds were allocated for the shelter. It is also supported by a $200,000 earmark from the state and a $200,000 contribution from the city through Community Development Block Grants.

"I know that everyone in this panel supports all the efforts that ServiceNet has taken and all the hoops that you've gone through so we're very appreciative," committee Chair Kim Borden said.

The committee hosted a second Housing Resource Fair on Thursday, this time at Persip Park. It featured representatives from local housing organizations and agencies.

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