Bartlett Housing Solutions, the city’s leading organization for homeless services, announced Thursday that it will increase bed capacity by 12 beds to provide additional shelter resources for those who are experiencing homelessness in Morgantown.
As the temperatures begin to drop and there is no alternative warming shelter in place, administration at Bartlett Housing Solutions presented several options to address the need.
Chief Executive Officer, Keri DeMasi said, “many community partners have been meeting for close to a year to identify a viable and responsible plan for a warming shelter. We know that there are more people in our community experiencing homelessness than we have shelter beds and although we work tirelessly to transition individuals out of our emergency shelter and into permanent housing as quickly as possible, there is still a gap that leaves many without a place to go.”
Despite those meetings, a solution for a warming shelter this year has not been determined.
“Bartlett offered an option to provide a warming shelter in addition to our emergency shelter but unfortunately that concept did not work out so we came up with another idea and that was to see what we can do to add additional beds to our existing emergency shelter for the winter months,” DeMasi said.
DeMasi spoke about the existing capacity and how her team walked through the shelter to see what could be rearranged or repurposed to get more beds into the shelter.
“We have a footprint that we had to work with, wanted to remain cognizant of best practices for congregate living but also wanted to see what we could do to help our community through the winter months,” she said. “By making some operational changes and redesigning some of the existing space, we are able to add 12 beds through the winter months bringing our total capacity from 28 to 40. Thanks to the City of Morgantown, we will be able to purchase the necessary beds and linens to expand our shelter.”
The additional beds will be available from November to March. DeMasi emphasized that this is not a warming shelter but instead an increase to the existing emergency shelter program, which receives limited dollars to operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
“We are extremely grateful to the Department of Health and Human Services, the City of Morgantown and the Monongalia County Commission as well as several local foundations for their support of our shelter program,” DeMasi said. “Without these instrumental funding sources providing our organization with grant funds, we simply wouldn’t be able to do what we do to not just provide for the immediate needs of those without a home but to truly address ongoing necessary services to empower our clients to become stabilized and self-sufficient.”
Bartlett welcomes any support the community is willing to provide to help with the ongoing operational costs necessary to keep providing the services that impact our community.
“We aren’t just a place that provides shelter and a shower, we work with each individual to establish a housing plan, locate and secure housing and become self-sufficient by providing intensive case management and connecting clients to resources that promote housing sustainability,” DeMasi said. “We are proud that last fiscal year we housed 155 people directly from the shelter. Many organizations like us are struggling right now with funding cuts but like many of our community partners, we want to continue providing the same high level of service despite funding challenges not only for the sake of our clients but for our community as well.”
For more information or to see how you can help, go to bartletthousingsolutions.org.