As a stager, fan of all things retro and a human who believes in taking care of the environment, the word ‘re-purpose’ is near and dear to my heart. So when I heard about how the King’s College dorms are being repurposed to help the areas homeless I was thrilled.
You already know the economic effect COVID has had on so many in our community. Maybe you felt the squeeze yourself. So, I was even more thrilled to learn that my hood, the Elizabeth neighborhood, and Independence Park were part of a program to help transition homeless men to independent housing.
Here’s how it went down.
With funds from the local community and the CARES Act, Roof Above took over two Lamar Avenue residence halls belonging to the former King’s College. Kings on Lamar, a dormitory-based shelter program for working men started in spring 2020. It was created in response to the pandemic.
Men lived in dorm rooms, with shared kitchens and bathrooms. The dorms themselves had big windows. Located next to the park, there was plenty of opportunities for the residents to connect to the outdoors. A breezeway between the two campus buildings became somewhat of a gathering spot for guests to relax and socialize.
Community is important for everyone.
A community newsletter quoted Director of Income Services Joe Hamby saying, “Small community is beautiful. With 69 men, our guests find community among the staff and among each other.” Hamby says, “Men who might escape notice in a larger group can be seen here.”
Those involved say that part of the success of the program was accountability. Guests signed a Contract for Success and had to complete a ‘One Man One Plan’ entry form. The form outlined their intentions for employment, housing, financial stability, and personal growth. Guests also had to have a 120-day moving home success goal.
The program has wrapped up.
So far, 81% of participants have had positive transitions to independent housing.
The question is how can we continue to help our community by building on the success of programs like this. In a time when affordable housing is at a premium, these kinds of innovative solutions to end homelessness show what is possible with little thought.
According to the newsletter I read, ‘Hamby is already dreaming of a broader, truly transformational program, with a mandatory learning component that takes guests on a journey of healing, self-reckoning, and personal discipline.’
Wow, I can’t wait to hear what he comes up with next. It would be great to see a program that can offer true change for those in our community who find themselves in such a need. Charlotte as a whole would be better for it.