Twenty-three leaders — from city officials to health care professionals to social service providers — put their heads together Wednesday to discuss how to meet the needs of women and families who are experiencing homelessness locally.
Youth Services System Inc. CEO John Moses called the meeting at the YSS administrative offices on 15th Street less than a week after the Salvation Army on 16th Street closed for renovations and announced it would reopen this week to men only. For many years, the shelter served men, women and families with children.
“The first purpose of the meeting was to give people an idea of what the homeless situation is in the Wheeling area, especially for women and families,” Moses said. “At last count, there were about 29-30 women sleeping in tents in the city of Wheeling. One of those moms is pregnant. We simply don’t have the immediate resources we once did.”
Secondly, Moses said, the meeting served to determine what resources are still available and float ideas for possible longer-term solutions.
One immediately available resource is the Salvation Army shelter in Bellaire. Major Louis Patrick shared his intention to fill the need to the best of his ability.
“I applaud Major Patrick for his enthusiasm and dedication to housing all those in need of shelter. He was very involved in this meeting and was pledging to make some accommodations in his own facility to handle more families and to handle more individuals, both men and women,” Moses said.
Other ideas discussed at the meeting included leasing a multi-unit apartment building and tapping the faith community to ask members to open their homes on a temporary, as-needed basis. Both of these plans will take time to develop, Moses noted, and funding is necessary to lease and furnish an apartment building.
For immediate needs for families, in addition to the Salvation Army in Bellaire, there is the possibility of putting them up in a local hotel at a discounted rate, which is what Moses has done in the past when the Wheeling Salvation Army shelter has been full. That option is dependent on cash donations from the community.
Moses thanked the following entities for sending representatives to the meeting Wednesday: Catholic Charities WV, House of Hagar Catholic Worker, Information Helpline, Community Foundation for the Ohio Valley, Sisters of St. Joseph Health and Wellness Foundation, Wheeling Hospital, Kennen & Kennen Realtors, YWCA Wheeling, City of Wheeling, Monoceros Properties, Project HOPE, Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston Office of the Bishop, Bellaire Salvation Army.
“I was very pleased with the turnout. People are working tirelessly every day to serve this population. They find a way,” Moses said. For more information or to offer assistance, contact Moses at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-218-2847.
Youth Services System Inc. operates a Winter Freeze Shelter for men and women from Dec. 15-March 15 at its administrative building. It also has emergency shelters for boys and girls ages 8-17 and houses homeless youth ages 17-21 through its Transitional Living Program.