MHA reveals homeless transition center plans - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

MHA reveals homeless transition center plans

By Jack Kuenzie - bio | email

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - For the first time, we're getting a good look at the plans for a new homeless transition center in Columbia.

It's been an eyesore at the corner of Main and Elmwood, but the days are numbered for most of what's left of Columbia's Salvation Army headquarters.

The crumbling motel rooms will be giving way to the new Midlands Housing Alliance Transition Center. An $8 million, 51,000 square foot complex that is designed to move Columbia's homeless off the streets and into more productive lives.

Columbia city Council members got a look at the center on Thursday. The plans show a series of buildings clustered around a courtyard and surrounded by a brick wall.

Housing Alliance leaders say the center will have bed space for 214. They will be required to take part in programs that are supposed to change their lives through what's described as "engagement and commitment."

"We hope that we will be able, maybe not to totally eliminate homelessness, but to reduce it and its adverse effects that it has on the individuals, our city and make our city and region a more liveable place," said Larry Arney, executive director of the Midlands Housing Alliance.

MHA says it is working with neighborhoods, churches and others in the immediate area on issues including safety.

"We recognize there are churches, there are neighbors, there are children's centers in close proximity and we have really put forth a strong effort to make sure it is safe and secure for the areas around the center," said Cathy Novinger.

Only one part of the Salvation Army complex, the chapel area, will remain and become part of the new transition center.

Alliance leaders say we're going to see activity begin within a week at the site. First, some environmental measures, but that work will take only a couple of days. Then, a demolition crew will begin tearing down the old motel.

The transition center is scheduled to ready to operate by April or May next year.

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