POINT PLEASANT — The Mason County Homeless Shelter recently announced the new shelter project will not move forward at this time.
The shelter was granted funding in February 2020 to complete a new facility for housing, pantry, soup kitchen and more. In a release from director John Machir, he stated the stipulations of the funding included completing construction by December 2021. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, construction progress was delayed from the start of blueprint drawings.
After making some progress, there was difficulty securing bids for the project, possibly due to many contractors being committed to projects for the year, Machir said.
Machir said the Southwestern Community Action Council, Inc., which oversees the Mason County Homeless Shelter, received two bids, however one was incomplete and could not be considered.
Machir said the cost of building materials “skyrocketed” since the pandemic began. Machir said the project as a whole was evaluated and was downgraded to attempt to reduce the cost. These downgrades included loss of exterior brick, loss of parking lot space, loss of a backup generator, loss of walk-ins for the pantry, lower ceiling heights, and downgrading finishings and furnishings. Machir said after all this, the project was still $120,000 over budget.
“As no other immediate funding sources presented themselves to meet the shortfall, and with a tight completion deadline looming, the Board of Directors of Southwestern Community Action Council, Inc. made the decision to cancel the project,” Machir stated in a news release.
“Mason County has not given up on the idea of a new shelter, and we are still reviewing other options, but that project simply cannot occur at this time,” Machir said.
Machir said the shelter is still in need of food items for the pantry and soup kitchen, including fresh produce, cereal or granola bars, bottled water, cheese crackers, hot dogs, and ground beef.
Machir said the community is also in need of volunteers to work with people once they secure housing to provide friendship and emotional support. There is also a need for employers to hire people who have experienced homelessness so they can have a source of income to pay bills, Machir said.
Education is also important, Machir added, also explaining encouraging children to stay in school can help to prevent future homelessness.
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Kayla (Hawthorne) Dunham is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing. Reach her at (304) 675-1333, ext. 1992.