Rowan Helping Ministries works with local organizations to find homes for displaced

Published 12:01 am Thursday, April 30, 2020

By Carl Blankenship

SALISBURY – Rowan Helping Ministries has partnered with county government and others to help provide housing outside of its shelter for people experiencing homelessness and who have been displaced due to COVID-19.

Here is how it works for people who need to isolate: A Rowan County Health Department staff member works with any individual who is homeless to perform a health investigation if they are suspected or confirmed positive for COVID-19 and stay in contact with that person. Rowan Helping Ministries then puts together food and supplies for the person for an isolation period and also stays in contact to meet that person’s need.

Rowan County Emergency management plans transportation of that person to a hotel room, which is paid for by the county. There, the person can self-isolate.

Guests who come to Rowan Helping Ministries’ shelter on Long Street must be symptom free at a residential center for two weeks beforehand, come directly from a two-week isolation or have a negative test result from a hospital. The nonprofit’s crisis assistance center is used to transition people in during the waiting period.

Rooms used for the agency’s New Tomorrows program and Jeannie’s Kitchen can now serve as day rooms. The nonprofit has also partnered with Hood Theological Seminary to house people who are homeless after losing their jobs due to economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. These are people who are not protected from eviction during the moratorium and may have an informal living arrangement or live in a hotel.

Rowan County Emergency Management Division Chief T.J. Brown said the county has had a long relationship with RHM to provide services to the homeless population.

“We worked with Rowan Helping Ministries from the very beginning to give us some guidance on housing, things to consider for housing, because they deal with it every day,” Brown said.

RHM Executive Director Kyna Grubb said the shelter recognized the need for additional housing services in March.

It has seven interview rooms which were turned into self-isolation areas at the Rowan Helping Ministries crisis center so those residents can transition into the regular shelter. For people who are displaced, Grubb said Hood allowed use of their student rooms at a significant savings compared to using hotels.

Hood has housed 15 people. Five people are sheltering in place at Rowan Helping Ministries, and 28 people are housed in the shelter with the ultimate goal of “halfwaying” them to housing. Grubb said temperatures of guests are checked three times a day. Some people have not wanted to stay at the shelter after the state’s stay-at-home order went into effect.

“We’re trying to do everything we’re supposed to do,” Grubb said.

Financial assistance from Rowan Helping Ministries is available by phone at 704-637-3868, extension 119.

About Carl Blankenship

Carl Blankenship has covered education for the Post since December 2019. Before coming to Salisbury he was a staff writer for The Avery Journal-Times in Newland and graduated from Appalachian State University in 2017, where he was editor of The Appalachian.

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