The Area Agency on Aging has expanded its partnership with the Justa Center with the purchase of the Justa Center building and adjacent vacant lot at 1001 W. Jefferson ensuring that the Valley’s only day-resource center serving elderly homeless men and women would continue.
“We simply can’t afford to lose this critical resource,” said Area Agency on Aging President and CEO Mary Lynn Kasunic. “We felt we had to step in and, with the collaboration of the Department of Economic Security, we were able to ensure they didn’t lose their home.”
Although the Area Agency on Aging has been collaborating with the Justa Center for more than 10 years with program and financial support for meals, legal assistance, benefits counseling and older worker positions, the Agency will not be involved in day-to-day operations, “leaving that to those with the expertise to run the programs,” Kasunic said. The purchase price for the 7,000 square-foot building and the 20,000 square-foot adjacent lot was not disclosed.
During the summer, financial challenges led to the possibility of the center closing. Donations received following news reports of the potential closure generated enough funding for six months with additional grant and funding opportunities currently being secured.
The Justa Center provides essential support and services for currently homeless adults age 55 and over including benefits assistance, transportation coordination and help finding permanent housing.
At the Center, clients also find respite from daytime temperature extremes in the summer and winter and have access to resources and services. The Justa Center is open seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day. It is not an overnight shelter.
Last year, the Center served 750 older men and women experiencing homelessness and is expected to serve more than 1,000 this year.
“We are beyond grateful to Area Agency on Aging for giving Justa Center this opportunity to be sustainable and continue to grow for all of our members,” said Justa Center Executive Director Wendy Johnson. “Though we are hopeful for the day our services aren’t needed, local and national data confirm senior homelessness is unfortunately on the rise, therefore we will strive to put as many folks back on the path to housing as possible.”
The nonprofit Justa Center opened in 2006.
For more information about programs, services and resources, contact theSenior HELP LINE at 602-264-HELP (4357).