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Health Right backs plan for warming shelter at Sabra United Methodist Church

MORGANTOWN — It’s basic and it was pulled together on short notice, but it’s far better than the cold. 

That was the gist of a Monday evening presentation announcing Milan Puskar Health Right has stepped forward to be the agency responsible for an emergency overnight warming shelter to be held at Sabra United Methodist Church. 

Now organizers are looking to the city and county to support the proposal presented to Morgantown City Council during Monday’s committee of the whole meeting. 

Morgantown Community Kitchen Director Jennifer Powell said she and Dani Ludwig will serve as supervisors while Health Right handles fiscal management, hiring and training. Sabra UMC, on Richwood Avenue, will host and insure the shelter operations. 

“We have a proposal for the shelter that is reasonable and feasible on short notice, keeping costs as low as possible,” Powell said. “The shelter will provide basic temporary protection from inclement weather through the winter months for 13 hours during the night.” 

If implemented, the shelter will operate from 6 p.m. to 7 a.m. from Dec. 1 to March 15. 

It will not include services available at Hazel’s House of Hope, like showers and a feeding program. It will be open to adults only. Families will be referred to the Morgantown RAMP Hotel Program. 

Drug and alcohol use will not be permitted.

“There will be continuous monitoring of the main gym area by staff members with bathroom use monitored at all times. At least two staff members will be present on the premises during the hours of operation,” Powell explained.

Capacity is estimated to be 40 individuals. 

The group is looking to raise $70,000, which is half the budget of last winter’s warming shelter held at HHH.  

So far, the city has already committed $30,000 to back an emergency shelter. The county has put in $10,000. 

While the warming shelter issue has been looming since March, up until Monday’s announcement there had been no agency willing to take it on and no facility willing to house it. 

“We asked to be the agency of last resort, and apparently we are the last resort,” Milan Puskar Health Right Executive Director Laura Jones said. “But all of us at Health Right feel strongly that we have to come together to have some kind of shelter for folks this winter. So, we’re willing to do whatever we can do to help make is successful.” 

Jones said Health Right will dedicate grant-funded outreach personnel on a limited basis and will work with MUSHROOM, WVU Medicine’s unsheltered homeless outreach program, to provide health care as needed. 

Last week, Bartlett Housing Solutions announced that it will increase capacity by 12 beds starting in November to provide additional shelter resources through the winter months. 

HHH has committed to keeping its new day room open from morning until The Salvation Army’s dinner service throughout the winter. That facility includes showers and a laundry room.