Rowan Helping Ministries, United Way, S&H collaborating on project expanding housing, support services

Published 12:08 am Thursday, November 18, 2021

By Natalie Anderson
natalie.anderson@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — Rowan Helping Ministries, the United Way and S&H Youth and Adult Services are collaborating on a capital project to expand transitional and permanent housing along with substance abuse and mental health services.

Representatives from all three entities detailed to Salisbury City Council members Tuesday a collaborative capital project called “Miracles on the Horizon, Finding Pathways Home,” and requested during a public comment hearing the city’s financial support of the project using an anticipated HOME grant from the American Rescue Plan.

Included in the ARP is $5 billion for the HOME program, which aims to increase home ownership and expand affordable housing. The city of Salisbury is slated to receive $525,000, which is funneled from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The city receives Community Development Block Grants from HUD each year, but this allocation would be an additional pot of funds.

This grant is also separate from the city’s share of ARP funding of which nearly $6 million remains.

The HOME grant aims to help people who are homeless, at risk of homelessness or within another vulnerable population, including those recently released from prison or with low incomes. Eligible expenses for the grant include development and support of affordable housing, tenant-based rental assistance, development of non-congregate shelters and support services such as homelessness prevention and counseling services.

The housing project would expand the number of permanent units to 10 by 2027. Raeshawn Palmer, director of community relations at Rowan Helping Ministries, said the agency has launched a capital campaign to raise $5.6 million, but it has already secured a grant for $450,000 in addition to a $2 million loan to complete the first phase of the project by September 2023. Additionally, Palmer said Rowan Helping Ministries will move its administrative offices in 2024 to make space for medical and mental health services with the collaboration of other entities.

Last week, the Historic Preservation Commission gave a green light to Gray Stout, an architect in Charlotte, for a project that will provide 12 transitional housing units with a current address of 0 Depot St. Stout was approved to move forward with the demolition of one of two buildings located at 317 E. Liberty St. and construct a new one for the housing units.

Jenny Lee, executive director of the Rowan County United Way, said assessments of the community have shown assistance for substance abuse, mental health disorders and healthy lifestyle behaviors are the biggest needs.

LaTanya Hardy of S&H Youth and Adult Services said 54% of the roughly 500 people Rowan Helping Ministries helped in the previous 12 months self-identified themselves as struggling with mental and substance abuse disorders. Additionally, the 76 homeless patients the clinic has served in the last 10 months had a seven-day stay for treatment on average.

Because those issues coincide, part of the project involves the establishment of a detox and facility-based crisis center. Lee credited the initiative with being a “unique and first-time cross-sectoral collaborative.”

“It is crucial to acknowledge that recovery is a lifelong journey and individuals require continued substance use and mental health services to maintain their housing,” Lee said. “And that’s what this partnership creates.” 

For Salisbury to receive its share of the HOME funding, it must first conduct a public hearing, which formally began Tuesday at the Salisbury City Council meeting. Members of the public can weigh in on how the funds should be considered by contacting Housing Planner Candace Edwards at candace.edwards@salisburync.gov. Edwards said she has already met with city staff, private investors and other stakeholders with a vested interest in the issue of housing.

The application for funding will be released on Nov. 29, with at least 30 days for entities to apply. Edwards said the intent of the grant is for such issues to be tackled as a collaborative effort among housing agencies or community services organizations, noting the proposed project from both Rowan Helping Ministries and the United Way as an ideal example.

Funding applications would be due on Dec. 7, with a 30-day public review and comment period on the proposed action plan scheduled to begin Jan. 18. City staff would seek final approval in March.

Edwards said one idea for some of the funds is to establish an eviction diversion initiative that may involve a designated person visiting the court often to see who’s on the roster for eviction-related cases. That person could provide them with information about available resources and services.

Contact reporter Natalie Anderson at 704-797-4246.