Home­less shel­ter mov­ing

Por­terdale’s Rain­bow Covenant Min­istries close to clos­ing the deal on new build­ing

The Covington News - - LOCAL NEWS - By Rachel Oswald

Rain­bow Covenant Min­istries is close to clos­ing the deal on a new lo­ca­tion in Cov­ing­ton for its home­less shel­ter which is cur­rently lo­cated in the City of Por­terdale.

Ac­cord­ing to Rain­bow Covenant Min­istries As­sis­tant Di­rec­tor Ch­eryl Heard, the new lo­ca­tion is a church lo­cated off Turner Lake Road. Heard said the shel­ter did not want to dis­close its name un­til all of the pa­per­work was signed and the site met with the ap­proval of the Ge­or­gia De­part­ment of Com­mu­nity Af­fairs.

“We’ve got to make sure the build­ing is what we need,” Heard said.

Heard said only mi­nor ren­o­va­tions would be needed for the church to be fit for hu­man habi­ta­tion such as the in­stal­la­tion of shower stalls and the ad­di­tion of in­dus­trial kitchen ap­pli­ances. Ser­vices at the church will con­tinue to take place re­gard­less of whether or not Covenant Min­istries does re­lo­cate inside its premises.

Heard es­ti­mated that Covenant Min­istries was two weeks to a month away from sign­ing a con­tract on the 11,500 square­foot fa­cil­ity.

Rain­bow Covenant Min­istries Di­rec­tor the Rev. Clara Lett and her fam­ily had pre­vi­ously made the de­ci­sion to do­nate five acres of land lo­cated in the Green Acres/Nelson Heights area for the use of the min­istry. The pos­si­bil­ity was orig­i­nally raised that the land could be used to build a new shel­ter, but when res­i­dents in the neigh­bor­hood ob­jected, Heard said the de­ci­sion was made to search for a dif­fer­ent lo­ca­tion for the shel­ter.

Heard at­trib­uted the re­sis­tance of the neigh­bor­hood to the idea of a home­less shel­ter be­ing built in its midst to a mis­con­cep­tion of what Covenant Min­istries is and who the peo­ple are it houses.

“A lot of times peo­ple don’t un­der­stand what a shel­ter is. They see At­lanta; they see what’s on TV,” Heard said. “Home­less­ness is not push­ing a shop­ping cart.”

The ma­jor­ity of the peo­ple that Covenant Min­istries houses are fam­i­lies who are tem­po­rar­ily with­out hous­ing as a re­sult of the loss of a job, fore­clo­sure, or the ris­ing cost of liv­ing.

“We’re faced with fam­i­lies dou­bling up with fam­i­lies and a fam­ily mem­ber get­ting mad and putting them out,” Heard said. “We see fam­i­lies that have been put out by sit­u­a­tions.”

Nev­er­the­less, Heard said the de­ci­sion was made to re­lo­cate Covenant Min­istries to a lo­ca­tion where it would fit with the stan­dards of the sur­round­ing area.

Ac­cord­ing to Heard, the land Lett and her fam­ily do­nated to Covenant Min­istries could be used for the build­ing of sin­gle-fam­ily af­ford­able hous­ing which she said was more in ac­cor­dance with the wishes of the neigh­bor­hood.

Though Rain­bow Covenant Min­istries is look­ing re­lo­cate, Heard said that the Rain­bow Covenant Church will stay right where it is, at 9 Hem­lock Street in Por­terdale.

The de­ci­sion to re­lo­cate Rain­bow Covenant Min­istries has been in the works for some time as a re­sult of ris­ing rates of home­less­ness in New­ton County and the four other sur­round­ing coun­ties which the shel­ter also serves.

In Covenant Min­istries’ sixyear his­tory, it has al­ready housed 5,000 in­di­vid­u­als ac­cord­ing to Heard. The min­istry cur­rently op­er­ates three shel­ter sites in Por­terdale with ap­prox­i­mately 50 beds. The new lo­ca­tion has room for 100 beds Heard said.

Heard said there is also the pos­si­bil­ity that the Com­mu­nity Food Bank and FaithWorks, two other faith-driven min­istries which also ad­min­is­ter to the poor, would re­lo­cate to the new church as well.

“We don’t know how ev­ery­thing will play out,” Heard said.

Once the new lo­ca­tion is ap­proved by the DCA, Heard said Covenant Min­istries will fill-out and sub­mit an ap­pli­ca­tion to the DCA for a $500,000 grant avail­able for the sup­port of the new shel­ter. Ad­di­tional funds are ex­pected to be raised from the com­mu­nity.

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