KEITH WHITCOMB JR.
MANCHESTER -- By September, the Bennington Coalition for the Homeless hopes to have up and running its first shelter in the Northshire.
The Price Place, at 3592 Richville Road, will be for families in need of transitional housing, said Kendy Skidmore, executive director for the coalition. The building had put up for commercial lease or sale, and the leasing cost for one year was donated by Stephen Price, who Skidmore said is affiliated with the Christ Fund.
She said the lease is for $1,500 per month and does not cover operational costs, so the coalition is looking for more donations to cover heat, telephone, and staffing bills.
She said this shelter will provide the same services at the transitional shelter at 6 Bank Street in Bennington, which include referrals to social services and education on life and financial management. She said those who stay will be required to save money for more permanent housing.
"This is the first project we've done in the Northshire," Skidmore said, adding that churches there have indicated there is a need for such shelter services as their resources are being taxed heavily.
Skidmore said she hopes to offset some operational costs by getting furniture donations and household supplies. Volunteers are also welcome, and there is room to house one volunteer there full-time. The house can hold three families, or between eight and 10 people.
She said she feels confident the coalition can sustain the shelter after it opens. "So far we've been able to sustain our programs; we haven't had to close any," she said. "This is probably one of the most difficult years. Some grants have been cut, and the cost isn't going down."
She said that as of Jan. 25, there were 193 documented homeless individuals in Bennington County, which is 68 more than the previous year. She said that does not count people whose housing situations are precarious or who are "doubling up."
Anyone wishing to donate or volunteer can contact the coalition at 802-753-7205. Skidmore said once the shelter is up and running, contact information for it will be made public and given to agencies and churches.
Contact Keith Whitcomb Jr. at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @KWhitcombjr