Boonville shelter ready for increase of occupants during winter season

As colder air arrives in Boonville individuals who have no place to call home may seek to stay in a shelter. Boonville has one shelter and it is the Harvest House, which is located near the river at the end of Rural Street. The shelter has opened its doors to multiple people throughout the year since 1990. With a capacity of 17 occupants, the shelter has seen a rise in the number of people needing shelter since the economic collapse of 2008. Harvest House Resident Manager Heidi Burnett said this year she has seen the largest number of occupants. She also said the people who stay at the shelter are a combination of local and non-local individuals. For those seeking shelter a simple process is undertaken. "Often, they will come off the streets or give us a call. During this time we will talk to them about our program," Burnett said. "They often just need food and a roof over their head. I hear people say they have not eaten in days." Once background checks are completed by the shelter and the Boonville Police Department, the individuals are then accepted into the shelter. Burnett said these checks are vital for finding out if these individuals are safe or if they have a warrant of some kind. "Once they come in, they fill out paper work," Burnett said. During the first 30 days the individuals are required to search for work and obtain a job. Once this occurs the individual is evaluated and may become eligible for a 120 day stay. Also, once the 30 days is up, a savings program is implemented which takes 65 percent of all earnings and places it into a savings account. Burnett said it was not until the shelter implemented this program did the success rate of individuals finding a place to live after their time at the shelter increase. The success rate stands at 90 percent. During the stay, the individuals also help out around the shelter with doing chores. "We provide the shelter and educate these people for success," Burnett said. "We are open to anyone needing shelter, even large families." "I would say that the Harvest House does great work in our community. The Harvest House provides shelter for those in need and without those services I don't know what the people who need help would do. The Police Department works very closely with the staff and board members of the Harvest House to assure those in need get assistance. I believe we need to continue to support the efforts of the Harvest House," Boonville Police Chief Bobby Welliver said.