POINT PLEASANT — With the support and help from the community, the Mason County Homeless Shelter staff has received just over $100,000 in donations towards the building of their new facility.
“This is a huge milestone for a community as small as Mason County,” said John Machir, housing director of the Mason County Homeless Shelter and Simms Housing.
Recently, the AEP Foundation awarded the homeless shelter staff a grant worth $15,000 which will be going towards the building of the new homeless shelter facility.
Machir commented Jim Rossi, member of the Mason County Homeless Services Advisory Council, was instrumental in helping with receipt of this grant as an organization must be recommended to be able to apply for the grant. In June, the homeless shelter was approved and received the check this past week.
The AEP Foundation awards grants in areas where their employees work, Machir shared Jim’s wife Sharry is a retired AEP employee as is Machir’s father.
Machir and the staff at the homeless shelter are “very pleased” with this contribution and it is going to help them keep moving forward with this project.
As of now, the location of the new facility will be located at Bellemead Street. The staff at the homeless shelter have been busy working on completing the application for an Affordable Housing Program (AHP) grant which is through the Federal Home Loan Bank in Pittsburgh, Pa.
Machir will be submitting the rough draft of the application to City National Bank at the start of next week as they are the homeless shelter’s member partner and then the final draft will be sent to the Federal Home Loan Bank for approval on Aug. 8.
The decision of approval will be known on Dec. 18. Should the staff at the homeless shelter receive this grant, then they will be able to break ground for the new facility in 2020.
Machir is hopeful they will receive the grant as their application is strong and fits the grant’s criteria such as the homeless shelter not only aids in addressing homelessness in the community, but also assesses the needs in the community by having an emergency food pantry.
The new facility will have three family rooms instead of one, it will be all one level, handicap accessible, with 4,500 square feet of area. The homeless shelter stays at or near capacity at all times. By having more family rooms, more people can be housed. One to two families with children have to be turned away each week because of the shelter only having one family room. Last year, more than 100 individuals had to be turned away due to space limitations.
The new pantry will be an expanded area capable to hold a refrigerator and freezer, so more food options will be available at all times, such as milk, produce, and frozen meat. Also, in the pantry an entire section will be set up for clothing to be stored, not only would everyday clothing be available, but also work clothing. The new facility will have a separate laundry room as well.
With more space being available at the new facility, the staff will be able to better help individuals and they will be able to house more individuals.
“I ask those in the community to cross your fingers and pray, as this is so desperately needed,” said Machir.
Erin (Perkins) Johnson is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing. Reach her at (304) 675-1333, extension 1992.