North Carolina Coalition to End Homelessness

Asheville overflow shelter is open, but not for long

Temporary shelter for 50 women at the Center of Hope still needs $22,000 to remain open to Nov. 30.
Asheville Citizen-Times
Mark Price
September 27, 2010
The Center of Hope's new overflow shelter on East Fifth Street has taken in its first 25 homeless women and expects to reach capacity in the next two weeks, as more new cots arrive.
Salvation Army officials have so far raised $55,000 for the 50-bed project, which is designed to ease overcrowding at the center's regular, 250-bed shelter for women and children.
But they remain $22,000 short of what's necessary to keep it operating through Nov. 30, when the Urban Ministry Center opens its winter shelter program, Room in the Inn.
As it stands now, there is a three-week shortage, said Deronda Metz, director of the Center of Hope shelter, which is nearly 100 people over capacity.
"Any woman lucky enough to get in the door here is going to be sleeping in the dining room," said Metz. "We have 19 on the floor right now."
Only healthy women without children are being moved to the overflow site, which is located in a building lent by Caldwell Memorial Presbyterian Church on East Fifth Street.
Other congregations have pitched in with money, including Myers Park Baptist, First United Methodist, Uptown Christ Covenant Church and Center of Spiritual Living. CMS Mercy Hospital donated 400 sheets and pillow cases, Metz said.
The bed shortage is due in part to last year's merger of the Uptown Shelter and Emergency Winter Shelter, which combined into a year-round shelter for men. Prior to the merger, the Center of Hope used the winter shelter to hold overflow during summer months.
Among the remaining needs at the overflow shelter is someone willing to put in an outdoor light at the entrance, which is cloaked in darkness at night, Metz said. A doorbell security system is also needed to guard against intruders.
Maj. Todd Hawks of the Salvation Army said a more permanent solution for the overflow is being considered, because the recession is forcing women to stay in the shelter longer, as they struggle for jobs.
However, expanding the Center of Hope's current location will not take care of the immediate need, he said.
To keep a 50-bed overflow shelter open year round would cost about $300,000 annually, and the goal would be to secure multi-year funding before opening it, he said.
"You don't want to keep working on short-term projects, only to end up in the same position next year," Hawks said, adding that money could come from a variety of sources.
"Between the city and county governments, some foundations and church support, I think it's doable."
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