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DECEMBER 2019 PROGRESS: Orangeburg homeless shelter closer to reopening

DECEMBER 2019 PROGRESS: Orangeburg homeless shelter closer to reopening

From the T&D Progress Edition 2019-20: Success and opportunity series
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Samaritan House

The Samaritan House Board of Directors held a press conference in December where they discussed their continued efforts to reopen the shelter. Pictured, from left, are shelter board members Demetria Williams, Treasurer the Rev. Jerry French, Orangeburg Mayor Michael Butler, Secretary Karen Tourville and Chair Brenda Jamerson.

Samaritan House officials were given the go-ahead in December to renovate and reopen the Middleton Street homeless shelter.

$100,000 needed to reopen Orangeburg homeless shelter, prevent foreclosure

The S.C. Housing Finance and Development Authority accepted a business plan for the shelter. In addition, donors have been supporting the effort.

"We have had so many donors who stepped up and who believed in the mission and gave to the cause," Orangeburg Mayor Michael Butler said. "So many volunteers from all over gave."

The support shows the generosity of Orangeburg, he said.

Orangeburg mayor seeking to reopen Samaritan House homeless shelter

"They saw the need of having this homeless shelter because we have a strong population of people sleeping outside in the woods," Butler said. "It has been such a great investment for our community."

Orangeburg County receives $1M-plus in grants; money will buy warning system, cars and more

The Middleton Street shelter closed its doors three years ago after the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development cut funding for transitional homeless housing programs. The agency began to focus its funds on permanent housing.

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"When we were organized as an official board in March 2019 and accepted the charge to do everything possible to reopen this much-needed facility, we did not have one dollar even to buy postage," Samaritan House board chair Brenda Jamerson said.

The board needed to develop a business plan that would be accepted by the S.C. Housing Finance and Development Authority so that it would dismiss the shelter’s foreclosure.

The authority dismissed the shelter’s foreclosure, opening the door for the shelter to apply for federal grants.

Through December, the Samaritan House received about $480,000 in donations and pledges for repairs and start-up funds. Operational funds have also been committed.

The business plan projects total start-up expenses will be about $136,713.88 and first-year operational expenses will be $250,000.

The next steps are to make the building ready for repairs.

The targeted reopening date is April 2020.

The majority of the money raised will be spent on repairs just to reopen the shelter.

An assessment of the building and its needs was done, revealing glaring issues. While vacant, the building has been vandalized several times.

Windows are knocked out, parts have been stolen out of the air conditioners and the refrigerator and freezer have been stolen.

There are also plumbing issues, and beds are covered with mildew. The hot water heater and two washers and dryers also need to be replaced.

Wiring has been cut throughout the building, and its onsite truck was also stolen.

The building also has leaks, meaning the entire roof will need to be replaced.

The business plan notes furniture, bedding, walls, ceilings and insulation will have to be removed and replaced. Furnishings such as beds, dressers and file cabinets will need to be cleaned.

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Following repairs, plans are to raise operating funds to maintain operations.

The shelter opened in 2001 as faith-based nonprofit organization.

The shelter offered transitional services such as life-skill training, job placement, medical care, housing, transportation and referral services.

Similar services will be offered upon reopening.

Contributions can be mailed to Samaritan House, P.O. Box 2392, Orangeburg 29116 with checks made payable to: The Samaritan House of Orangeburg County, Incorporated.

To help the fundraising and reopening efforts, call 803-533-6000 or 803-534-2286 for additional information.

Contact the writer: gzaleski@timesanddemocrat.com or 803-533-5551. Check out Zaleski on Twitter at @ZaleskiTD.

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