POINT PLEASANT — The Mason County Homeless Shelter is currently accepting West Virginia residents only during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Director John Machir said because of the higher case count in Ohio, they will not be accepting out-of-state residents. Machir said he and his staff are doing this “out of an abundance of caution.”
“If anybody knows of someone who’s homeless and needs a safe place to be, certainly send them toward the shelter,” Machir said. “If we fill up, we’ll let the public know, but for right now, we do have openings.”
The staff at the homeless shelter are also screening people who come in. They will be wearing gloves and masks and checking the temperature of everyone as well as monitoring for symptoms. Machir said that because of the open dorm style of the shelter, residents will be sleeping head-to-feet to help prevent the spread if someone would happen to be infected.
Machir said for the most part, the residents are not going out into the public, and the staff of the shelter are normally going to the store for essential items.
Machir said that the shelter still has food available to those who need assistance. The food in the shelter is either from community donations or from the Emergency Food Assistance Program through Facing Hunger Food Bank in Huntington. To qualify for the government food assistance, Mason County residents must meet an income requirement. Residents are normally required to go to DHHR to get proof of residence, but that requirement has been waived due to DHHR being closed to the public at this time.
Machir said if someone does not qualify for help based on income, the staff at the homeless shelter can give them food from the community donations.
The new shelter project has been delayed due to the COVID-19 outbreak and stay at home order.
“It takes a little while to communicate everything back and forth by email,” Machir said “We are in the process of getting the engineer drawings and everything done so we can get a bid out.”
Machir said the project’s timeline will likely be delayed one to two months. The shelter can apply for an emergency extension with the affordable housing program. Funding should still be secured, according to Machir.
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Kayla Hawthorne is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing. Reach her at (304) 675-1333, ext. 1992.