Community, Latest News, News

Monongalia County Unsheltered Task force, Motel 6 help homeless

Monongalia County Commissioner Tom Bloom said the Monongalia County Unsheltered Task Force — formed to assist the area’s homeless through the COVID-19 crisis — has placed
33 people in 18 rooms at the Motel 6, in Star City.
Bloom said the task force may potentially secure additional rooms if needed.
At present, however, Rachael Coen, program coordinator for the West Virginia Coalition to End Homelessness, said things are holding steady. She said the plan is to keep two of the 20 rooms open in case someone is discharged from a hospital and needs shelter or someone develops symptoms and needs to be isolated, which, thus far, hasn’t happened.
“Nobody has tested positive and as far as I know, we’ve not had anybody out there who’s even had symptoms,” Coen said.
“I give our health department a lot of credit. We’re fortunate to have Dr. Smith at the health department leading this effort to make sure there isn’t community spread, or minimal community spread. The emphasis on having a plan in place quickly, I think that helped a tremendous amount.”
Coen said the effort has drawn assistance from a number of invaluable partners, including Community Kitchen, Christian Help and Salvation Army.
She said staff from Milan Puskar Health Right and Friendship House are touching base with each individual on a daily basis.
“Also a major shout out goes to Star City officials Steve Blinko and Herman Reid who are overseeing this, along with the police department. We’re very appreciative of their support,” Bloom said.
Along with dealing with day-to-day needs and keeping everyone fed and healthy, Coen said the WVCEH is also working with the individuals to make sure everything is in place to move the guests out of the motel and into housing when appropriate.
“At this point we’re just trying to make sure we’re all communicating with each other to get everybody taken care of. We’re also trying to locate units so we can potentially get people moved out,” she said.
Lastly, Coen said she is reaching out to Morgantown officials about possible funding assistance from $251,333 in Community Development Block Grants the city has coming as part of the CARES Act.
However, the federal guidelines for how the city can utilize those funds has yet to be released and, Coen explained, there are questions, like whether the city would be able to use the funds given the location is in Star City.
“They’re waiting on the federal register to be released, and then they’ll know what they can spend it on,” Coen said. “The overwhelming majority of the people in the hotel were in the downtown, so we’re hopeful. I’d just like to be included in the conversation about what could be beneficial.”
TWEET @DominionPostWV