To put it plainly, homelessness in the midst of plenty is a travesty that should not exist.
Many people will make their beds tonight in the woods of White Pine, Cathy’s Creek, Pisgah Forest and in cars scattered throughout the parking lots of Transylvania County. They have lost their homes and they have lost hope.
Who are the homeless?
There are two definitions of homelessness. The McKinney Vinto definition and the HUD definition.
The McKinney Vinto definition covers people that may be doubled up or couch surfing while the HUD definition covers those that are literally homeless, sleeping in their car, tent, or on the street.
The options these unfortunate men, women, and families face are few and grim. A disturbing number of people experiencing homelessness in our county are women and children.
Transylvania County Schools tracks the number of school-age children who are homeless or precariously housed at sometime during the school year. On average, there are 150 such students each year. Most students fall under the McKinney Vinto definition of homelessness and are able to stay with friends and/or family.
The Haven typically serves those that are literally homeless that have no other place to go.
What is The Haven and Haven Family House?
The Haven operates two shelters. The Haven Thomas House and the Haven Family House.
The Haven Thomas House is an 18 bed overnight shelter to temporarily house homeless men and women. It provides a respite for those who have been suddenly and unexpectedly fallen into homelessness or have been chronically homeless for a long time. The Haven Thomas House is a safe, secure shelter where they can be helped to get back onto their feet. The open floor plan makes is possible for staff to monitor activity throughout the early evening and night.
The Haven Family House is a four-bedroom house to provide a safe, secure home for families that are in crisis. Each family is provided a room of their own with a capacity of 16 people total or 4 families. Each bedroom connects to a shared half bath with a community full-sized kitchen, showers, living space, dining area, basketball pad, pavilion, and a playground for the children.
Both shelters are co-ed and have laundry facilities, showers, mail service and telephone messaging services.
How does The Haven help?
The shelters provide a warm and inviting atmosphere, where the guests are treated with dignity and genuine caring. Staff helps our guests figure out how they got here and what steps they need to take to move on to stable, affordable housing. A case manager is on staff and refers clients to community agencies that provide housing, employment, daycare, family support, medical and dental issues, education, eye glasses, health insurance/medicaid, and food assistance. Guests are expected to complete goal plans and move forward to bettering their life. A mental health counselor is also on staff and provides needed counseling, guidance, group activities, and therapy to assist guests to get through their past, deal with communal living challenges, or whatever life may bring.
The Haven Thomas House and Haven Family House are located behind The Bread of Life, which allows both food and shelter needs to be met in one place. This location is also adjacent to the Sharing House, where clothing and other food sources are available. Department of Social Services and Meridian Behavioral Health are also close on the map to this locale. The Haven collaborates with community agencies devoted to helping people in need.
The Haven Thomas House and Haven Family House provides structure. Guests of the Haven Thomas House leave in the morning Monday – Saturday at 8:00 am and can return at 4 pm, but are required to be in by 7 pm. During the day, clients are expected to complete goals as set per individual. The Haven Family House is set up to allow families to stay in all day and are also required to complete goals as set per individual family.