Home­less shel­ter could need $18K to re­place ACs

The Covington News - - FRONT PAGE - GABRIEL KHOULI gkhouli@cov­news.com

Cov­ing­ton’s home­less shel­ter has been stay­ing open by scrap­ing to­gether enough funds to pay its monthly $6,000-plus util­ity bills, but now that three of its air con­di­tion­ing units have failed, the shel­ter needs an even big­ger cash in­fu­sion.

Shel­ter Di­rec­tor Clara Lett said three of the cen­ter’s eight or so air con­di­tion­ing units failed this week, and the sole bid she’s re­ceived so far was $18,000 to pur­chase and in­stall re­place­ment units. She’s get­ting an­other bid tonight and hopes it comes in lower.

Cur­rently, the shel­ter’s ad­min­is­tra­tive of­fices are with­out air con­di­tion­ing and part of the women’s shel­ter is also with­out air. The shel­ter is cur­rently hous­ing 33 people, Lett said.

“These build­ings are old and these units are old,” Lett said.

Seek­ing do­na­tions

Lett said she is reach­ing out to any­one and ev­ery­one for help in rais­ing money to re­place the air con­di­tion­ers.

Shel­ter board mem­ber Sam Ram­sey also put out the call for help Thurs­day. He’s promised to put up some money, and Lett said that Spring­field Bap­tist has promised to help.

Ram­sey al­ready paid for one air con­di­tion­ing unit to be re­placed last year, and the Cov­ing­ton Hous­ing Author­ity, which leases the build­ings to the shel­ter, also re­placed an­other unit, Lett said.

How­ever, the re­main­ing old units have con­tin­u­ally failed and Lett said the shel­ter has spent more than $1,200 mak­ing re­pairs to the units, only to see a new is­sue pop up.

The shel­ter ac­cepts do­na­tions via PayPal or in per­son at 7133 Turner Lake Cir­cle, Cov­ing­ton.

Do­na­tions can also be given to Ram­sey at Ram­sey’s Fur­ni­ture store, 1145 Clark St., Cov­ing­ton.

For more in­for­ma­tion about the Gar­den of Geth­se­mane Home­less Shel­ter, res­i­dents can call the shel­ter at 770-787-8519 or visit the web­site at rain­bow­com­mu­ni­tyctr.org.

County adds in­su­la­tion

The air con­di­tion­ing unit fail­ures come at the same time the county is mak­ing the shel­ter’s three build­ings more en­ergy ef­fi­cient.

Among the set of 2011 SPLOST projects for District 4 that the Board of Com­mis­sion­ers ap­proved re­cently was $12,000 to im­prove the en­ergy ef­fi­ciency of the home­less shel­ter, said Chair­man Keith El­lis.

El­lis said the county has paid con­trac­tors $3,000 to dis­cover and seal up all of the places in the build­ings where air leaks out – in­clud­ing things like caulk­ing and in­stalling door sweeps – and paid for $8,000 worth of blown in­su­la­tion for the build­ings.

Some ar­eas of the build­ing had vir­tu­ally no in­su­la­tion left, but the county is beef­ing up the in­su­la­tion to an R-30 level, which is about 10 inches of in­su­la­tion, El­lis said.

The re­main­ing $1,000 paid for a $200 en­ergy au­dit and $800 worth of ma­te­ri­als, in­clud­ing in­stalling new smoke and car­bon monox­ide de­tec­tors.

El­lis, who used to run a com­pany that per­formed en­ergy au­dits for build­ings, do­nated some ma­te­ri­als he had to the cause.

“We hope the mea­sures we’re tak­ing will in­crease the shel­ter’s abil­ity to stay open,” El­lis said.

Lett has re­peat­edly that the shel­ter’s big­gest hur­dle to re­main­ing open is its large monthly util­ity bills.

El­lis said he wasn’t sure how much money the im­prove­ments could po­ten­tially save, but he hopes the sav­ings will be sig­nif­i­cant.

Gabriel Khouli /The Cov­ing­ton News

Vol­un­teer Quin Heard said this Rheem air con­di­tion­ing unit pro­vides air to the shel­ter’s sa­lon and one of its train­ing cen­ters in the women’s shel­ter. While the res­i­dents’ sleep­ing quar­ters seem to have air, hav­ing some AC units down will likely put stress on the run­ning units and re­place­ments units will be ex­pen­sive.

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