First United Methodist Church on Fenn Street is hoping to welcome guests to its new homeless shelter in April.

According to a story reported on by, as 2021 rolls on, local advocates are working to resolve social issues of the past year, and many years before.

Though homelessness in Pittsfield was not new to 2020, it was exacerbated by the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Good news, though, is on the horizon. First United Methodist Church on Fenn Street is hoping to welcome guests to its new homeless shelter in April.

The 40-bed facility will be administered by ServiceNet, which currently runs the emergency COVID-19 shelter at the former St. Joseph's High School.

First United's Rev. Ralph Howe had this to say:

We're expecting that ServiceNet will start to occupy the space in about April 1, that they will then give notice to the owner of the Barton's Crossing building and locate their entire operation in a new shelter. [Barton's Crossing] looks OK from the outside but it is an old building, and it's old equipment, and so they're happy to be moving on.

In September, Pittsfield planners approved the shelter's location in the church after an approval delay and a lengthy amount of conditions. It was originally aimed to open early this year, but regulatory delay and the onslaught of the COVID-19 surge slowed the process.

Howe explained that the completion bid papers done by the project's architect were just finished, so the bid for completion work will go out shortly.

"It's all pretty much finished ready," he said. "They brought in a new line for the sprinkler system and all sorts of massive plumbing, and then bathrooms and laundry have to be installed. You know, finish work, putting the floors down, hanging the doors and all that kind of stuff. So, they should get back the bids on that within about a month."

Since coming to Pittsfield around 2011, Howe said, ServiceNet has been looking for a building to satisfy the needs of a shelter because of the current one's poor condition.

First Methodist is a small congregation with a large building suitable for inhabitants and has an interest in helping the community, so it was able to work out an agreement that benefits both the church and ServiceNet.

First Methodist will be paid $70,000 annually by ServiceNet and will be responsible for the costs of heating, lighting, and water. Howe hopes that the church has a net earning of around $60,000, which he said is in line with long-term viability for a church with a building.

Howe said the conversion was easy, as the church is made of concrete, brick, and steel with existing amenities such as an elevator, ground floor entrance, and plenty of bathrooms.

With funding from a congregation member who had passed, the church also will be building a new handicapped entrance.

There is much more to the story and you can check it out by visiting's website here.

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