Homeless No More moving emergency shelter families to motels during renovations

Updated: Oct. 8, 2020 at 7:39 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - The resources for the homeless community in Columbia are changing.

Homeless No More CEO & President Lila Anna Sauls said, in the coming weeks, the non-profit emergency shelter will be transitioning to motels.

She said the shelter dorms, which were built in the 1960s, are in need of upgrades. That includes meeting ADA compliance and added security.

As a result, the non-profit is moving the families currently inside to more stable housing further along in the non-profit’s program. Incoming families will be supplied motel rooms in the region.

Sauls said the full transition to the motels was not Plan A, but completely shutting down the program for renovations was not an option.

“We continue to be the only shelter in the Midlands to serve fathers and children of both sexes, especially boys over the age of 12. We could not close this shelter,” she said. “We serve the entire family, and we will continue to serve the entire family. We’re not going to let our families down and we’re not going to let our community down.”

Sauls said her team will be transitioning the families in motels to more stable housing after 30 days, which is faster than the traditional 90-day program. She said it’s expected that will allow for 20 to 25 more families to receive help before Spring 2021 when the renovations are expected to be completed.

The extra capacity could be needed.

The CDC moratorium on evictions ends on Dec. 31, meaning the new-look program could be tested with a surge in evictions.

SC Housing Chief Research Office Bryan Grady said his office is expecting as many as 120,000 renter households could face eviction in South Carolina. That’s one in five renter households across the state.

He said the pandemic’s economic toll took out low-paying jobs, which compounds the issue.

“You have a uniquely devastating recession for the people who were already at the bottom of the scale, to be renters, to be in these precarious situations,” he said.

Sauls said her team is ready.

“My team and I are well aware of the gravity of this. We have risen to every occasion that’s been thrown at us over the past 30 years, 18 of which I’ve been a part of. We’ve never let our families down here. We’re not going to let our families down here,” she said.

The emergency shelter campus on Two Notch Road will remain open for social services for the families.

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