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Bartlett House yet to tap into additional warming shelter space

MORGANTOWN — The community’s emergency warming shelter located in the former Hope Hill Sobering Center space on the ground floor of Hazel’s House of Hope has been available since Dec. 7.  

Available, but thus far unused. 

Bartlett Housing Solutions, which operates a 28-bed, year-round triage shelter on the second floor of HHH, is running the warming shelter program. 

Starting Nov. 17, before the warming shelter situation had been sorted out, Bartlett House added 12 beds as its own in-house cold-weather shelter. 

Chief Executive Officer Keri DeMasi told The Dominion Post that so far, those 12 beds have been enough.

It’s only after the 40 Bartlett House beds (triage and warming) are filled that Bartlett House will open up the 15 beds in the old sobering center space. 

“We haven’t needed to go into the 15 additional beds,” she said. “There were a couple nights that we had only two or three beds available, but most nights we’ve had most, if not all, of those 12 extra beds open.” 

That’s expected to change as winter progresses and temperatures remain below the 40-degree threshold needed to open the warming shelter beds. 

The warming shelter is open any time, day or night, the temperature hits 39 degrees or lower.

“Originally, one of the requests was that we just run it overnight. A lot of us worked really hard to explain why it was important to keep it open. If it’s going to be temperature-based, then it shouldn’t matter if it’s nighttime or daytime,” DeMasi said. “If it’s below 40 degrees, it’s open.” 

Clients can check into the warming shelter any time it’s open, but once checked in cannot leave between the hours of 8 p.m.-6:30 a.m. outside of two nightly smoke breaks.  

The warming shelter spaces are operated under the same rules as the Bartlett House triage shelter and require all clients to submit to a search prior to admittance. 

Warming shelter clients will be encouraged to work with case managers, but it won’t be mandatory. 

Further, the warming shelter beds are only available for residents of Monongalia, Preston and Taylor counties and will be confirmed via photo ID or use of the statewide Homeless Management Information System. 

“That really was a pretty big talking point. There are a lot of communities that will try to, for a lack of a better term, discharge people to communities that have warming shelters without any support, and then they’re the ones who are left un-sheltered once the cold season is over,” DeMasi said. “We already have a significant number of un-sheltered people in our community, and we want them to be able to access those beds if they choose to do so.” 

There is free bus service from downtown to the Scott Avenue facility every day until 8 p.m. After that, DeMasi said there are volunteers able to provide rides in a pinch.

You can check the status of the warming shelter through the Cold Weather Emergency Shelter 23-24 Facebook page. Contact Bartlett House at 304-292-0101 if a ride is needed. 

“We really hope folks come in and use the shelter. There is no check-in time. If they’re outside and it’s 1 a.m. and they want to get inside, they can,” DeMasi said. 

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