Bucks homeless shelter gets new owner

Family Service Association, based in Langhorne, will take over operations of the Lower Bucks County Homeless Shelter on Jan 1. At the shelter Monday, Nov. 14, are (from left) Jane Shuster, director of community-based services for FSA; Audrey Tucker, CEO of FSA; and shelter director Michelle Leister. (Bill Reed/Staff)

The largest emergency homeless shelter in Bucks County will have a new owner starting Jan. 1, the American Red Cross and the Family Service Association announced Monday.

The agreement culminates a five-month search by the American Red Cross of Southeastern Pennsylvania to find a new operator for the homeless shelter on New Falls Road in Bristol Township. Operating the shelter does not fit the Red Cross’ mission of disaster preparedness and relief, officials have said.

“When we made the difficult decision to restructure the services provided in Lower Bucks County chapter, we made a promise to keep the homeless shelter open until we found a competent independent agency committed to the people of Bucks County and its need for a homeless shelter,” said SEPA Chapter CEO Renée Cardwell Hughes in a written statement. “We have made good on that promise.”

Family Service was involved when the shelter opened in the late 1980s, providing case management services. FSA provides on-site mental health services at the 24-hour-a-day shelter that houses 75 men, women, and children each night.

“Family Service looks forward to working closely with Red Cross leadership, the staff of the shelter, and the community to ensure a smooth transition,” CEO Audrey J. Tucker said in the written statement. “Our goal is to help individuals and families achieve their dreams of moving from the shelter to a safe and secure home of their own.”

The Red Cross has operated the shelter for 25 years, the last 10 at the New Falls Road facility.

FSA, founded in 1953, helps more than 6,000 children, adults, and seniors annually.  FSA assists families in thriving and achieving self-sufficiency through programs that include outpatient mental health counseling, early childhood services, older adult programs, HIV/AIDS services, the Bucks County Family Center, the Teen Center, and Asperger’s support.