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Being homeless is a dire situation people don’t want to be in, but help is on the way for some through a special duplex to be used as transitional housing to allow tenants to get back on their feet while they train for careers, in hopes of securing gainful employment.
Almost Home, a Franklin County organization that specifically targets helping the homeless, spearheaded the drive to purchase the duplex at 210 6th Ave. S.W. in Winchester. Acquisition of the property was made possible by The United Way of Franklin County, Sanders Foundation of Franklin County, churches and personal contributions from the community, as well as from fundraisers, auctions, and a private foundation.
To officially christen the duplex, the Almost Home Board of Directors, and the organization’s volunteers are sponsoring an Open House on Sunday, April 6, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
The house is the organization’s first transitional duplex for the homeless.
Dwain Money, Almost Home president, explained in a press release what the duplex’ status is.
“There is some work to do before we can open the first unit,” he said. “The house needs some repairs, and the board of Almost Home will be screening applicants for the residence.
“Successful candidates for the transitional house must meet a rigorous background check and be capable of meeting the goals for fiscal responsibility at the end of the transitional period, Almost Home will work with clients to help obtain employment and acquire the skills needed to prevent homelessness in the future.”
Money said the first unit needs some drywall repair and paint, and the second unit will need some wiring repair before the electricity can be turned on. He added that both units need 200-amp electric service, a fully functional electric stove, a refrigerator and a washer and dryer.
“A list of additional furnishings will be posted at the open house,” Money said. “We are looking for volunteers to participate in what has already proven to be a rewarding experience for our staff and board of directors, all of which are non-paid volunteers.”
Other board members and volunteers echoed Money’s enthusiasm about providing temporary quarters, geared to create life-changing experiences for those who inhabit them.
Janis Rose, Almost Home treasurer, explained her outlook.
“The average person doesn’t see the need these people have like the volunteers do,” she said, adding that volunteered for the effort because it’s a good feeling to share in making a difference to help those in need.
Board member James Cantrell said most area residents — like he had been before discovering the organization — don’t even realize Franklin County has a homeless population.
“You wouldn’t think we would have that here, but we do,” he said, adding that it’s a great feeling to be involved in an organization that can make such a significant difference in someone’s life.
Betty Pinkerton, organization secretary, said participating in the effort is extremely rewarding.
“We helped 591 last year of which 300 were children,” she said. “That gives you an idea about what we’re trying to do.
“We help people find job skills so they are not homeless again.”
Pinkerton explained that the duplex’ tenants will be allowed to live in the dwelling for a year to a year and a half rent-free. However, she said they will be required to pay a percentage of the utilities as encouragement to conserve on energy costs.
In addition to the 591 Almost Home assisted last year, 723 critical needs services were provided including emergency motel stays, utility assistance to prevent homelessness, and food to feed the hungry due to the extreme cold weather resulting in higher than average utility bills, Money said.
He extended an invitation to the public to attend the April 6 event.
“Please join us at the open house or contact Almost Home at 968-2503 or firstname.lastname@example.org if would like to help,” Money said.