Homeless shelter ‘idea on hold’

Published 11:22 am Thursday, August 27, 2015

The dream of a daytime drop-in center for area homeless may not be shattered, but apparently won’t be coming true any time soon.

More than a year ago, the Rev. Sallie Schisler, priest in charge at Christ Episcopal Church, organized what she called a community conversation to see if there is a need for such a center.

A year and several meetings later the consensus is that the need is there but the money and commitment to the idea isn’t, Schisler said.

“I finally realized while everyone agrees it is a need, it is no one’s priority,” she said. “And I don’t think it is a one-person project.”

The ad hoc group formed after the June 2014 meeting started out looking for property for a small center and developing a budget so it could apply for grants from Bon Secours Health System.

Ideally what was sought was a site within walking distance of the Ironton City Mission, the Ironton-Lawrence County Community Action Organization and the One-Stop on North Second Street.

“You can get all the services at the One Stop, but you can’t hang out there,” she said at the time. “We are looking for a place to stop in, take a shower, do their laundry and have a cup of coffee.”

About all the idea received as far as funding was $4,000 from a grant Christ Church had received from the Episcopal diocese.

“If it is not run by an agency and exists on grants, there is absolutely no way to develop a revenue stream,” Schisler said. “The one in Portsmouth is able to offer case management, which they can charge Medicaid for. That develops enough of a revenue stream to keep the doors open.”

While the Ironton City Mission provides lodging for the homeless at night, there is no designated place for those individuals during the day. Many seek shelter at downtown fast food restaurants or the library. Neither offers any amenities, just a warm place to stay.

“The mission’s primary responsibility is for overnight shelter,” Schisler said. “Without the mission feeling called to extend their services or the CAO reconfiguring their dollars for homelessness, it is beyond the scope of what a group of churches can do. Right now it is an idea on hold until we can think of a way to make it sustainable.”