03/11/05 — Salvation Army to renovate shelter

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Salvation Army to renovate shelter

By Barbara Arntsen
Published in News on March 11, 2005 1:50 PM

The Salvation Army will soon be renovating its homeless shelter, thanks to money from the city.

A $100,000 grant, made possible through the Community Development Block Grant program, will allow the Salvation Army to upgrade the inside of the building.

The shelter houses up to 22 people a day, men and women, and the staff provides three meals a day for all residents.

There is also a room in the shelter that can house up to four people, which is used as a family unit.

Captain John Leidy, commanding officer of the Goldsboro Salvation Army, says that the money will provide new flooring throughout the house.

"We'll also expand the kitchen and completely renovate it," Leidy says. "It's in bad shape, and this will be more functional."

The overall square footage of the house will remain the same, so some of the office space will shrink to give extra space for the kitchen.

"Some of the staff will have to work in a little smaller space," Leidy said, "but we're hoping to better serve the needs of the people."

All of the interior walls will be painted, and a new roof will be put on the house.

Leidy says that plywood is showing through parts of the roof now.

New windows will provide better insulation, and residents will be protected through a new alarm and fire system.

"The fire system will be upgraded to meet the current code," Leidy said.

The architectural firm of Partin & Hobbs designed the renovations, and the contract for construction should be awarded in the next week.

Janice Sauls, shelter director, said the changes were "very much needed." "This is absolutely wonderful," she said.

Ms. Sauls, who has worked at the shelter for five years, says that most of the people who come to the shelter have nowhere else to go.

She remembers one man with serious health problems coming to stay at the shelter. He had nowhere to go, she said, and a history of drug use had left him unable to get steady work.

"He really needed to be on disability, but it takes a long time to get through that process," she said. "We couldn't find housing for him or get him the disability."

The man had no family or friends, but heard he could work odd jobs in Maryland, and headed up that way.

Ms. Sauls says she stills thinks about him, and hopes he is all right.

"It really bothered me because of his health, but when they're borderline as far as meeting the disability guidelines, it poses a lot of problems to get them qualified," she said.

She also recalls an 80-year-old man who came to the shelter, wanting to relocate to Goldsboro.

"We first got him in some senior apartments down on Walnut Street, and now he's living in Grace Village," she said. "He's happy and comes by from time to time to visit."

Leidy estimates that Goldsboro and Wayne County's homeless population is between 250 and 300.

He says that the number of homeless people with mental illnesses may be higher because of the various hospitals in the area.

"Sometimes the police bring people right to our shelter once they are released from Cherry Hospital," Leidy said.

Ms. Sauls says that shelter staff work to find a placement for those people released from the hospital.

Though the Salvation Army generally provides emergency relief at the shelter, some people do stay for more than a day or two.

"They can stay up to 90 days, but most of them move out before that because the emergency is gone," Leidy says.

He is hoping that the Salvation Army can expand the shelter, and its services, to include transitional housing. A needs assessment was conducted in the area in 2003, he says, which showed that there wasn't any transitional housing in the area.

"Transitional housing would be where you could stay six months, at no cost," he said. "It's geared toward families."

Besides providing housing for families during a period of transition, the adults living in the shelter would have to attend a variety of classes.

"They will need to find jobs, start a bank account," Leidy said. "We'd educate them on budgeting, parenting skills and other things."

Leidy said the purpose would be to help people break "out of a cycle of poverty and give more tools for life.