'You Don't Get a Lot of Opportunities to Help with Homelessness'
There has been a lot of progress inside 10 Parkhurst Street since I first published this post two weeks ago.
"The volunteers that Cover organized were able to paint the top two floors of the building, leaving the first floor for our contractor to finish," says Michelle Kersey of Twin Pines Housing. "The construction crew continues to paint and lay flooring, a shipment of new kitchen appliances arrive on Monday, and cabinets and bathroom fixtures will be added over the course of the month. Once the sprinkler system is installed at the end of July, residents will be able to move into their homes."
The $2.7 million project is an important step toward addressing homelessness in the Upper Valley. The building will provide secure housing as well as support services for 18 tenants in desperate need of both.
"Our Property Management team is in the midst of qualifying residents for the 18 apartments," Kersey says. "They are reviewing over 50 applications, with 8 fully processed and 4 in progress.
"It’s a long, complicated procedure that requires dozens of pages of paperwork and often takes multiple visits with prospective tenants. A few of the residents lived at Parkhurst before Twin Pines Housing took ownership and are moving back in, about a dozen are direct referrals from the Upper Valley Haven."
Here is the original post, published June 22 ...
It will take a village of volunteers and donors and staff, but by the time the paints dries in an 18-unit apartment building in downtown Lebanon Saturday, one answer to the misery of homelessness in the Upper Valley will be that much closer to opening.
The $2.7 million project, at 10 Parkhurst Street, is the work of Twin Pines Housing, a nonprofit dedicated to affordable housing in the region. Work began last November, and the first tenants may move in by the end of July.
It's an old building -- 1860s -- so surprises abounded. Foremost among them: the plumbing, the water supply, the sprinkler system. Addressing these necessities put the project over budget. The community responded, raising most of the needed money ... but leaving the painting gap.
COVER, the Upper Valley's home repair and weatherization nonprofit, drew more than 40 volunteers out of the woodwork to lay down the latex over three days. Every business they asked for help stepped up. "You don't get a lot of opportunities to help with the homelessness problem," says Bill Neukomm, COVER's executive director.
Andrew Winter, the executive director of Twin Pines, demonstrates mad caulking skills.
The project's promise lies in its comprehensive approach. While Twin Pines provides the shelter at subsidized rates, the Upper Valley Haven will support tenants by connecting them to mental health or substance abuse services, a family doctor, and so on. The downtown location couldn't be better.
If there's a way to address homelessness, says Andrew Winter, the director of Twin Pines, it begins with combining long-term shelter and services. "It is a much less expensive way, for everybody," he says.
Of course, the project is far from a complete answer. The wait list has 50 names on it. And Upper Valley Haven surveys suggest as many as 110 adults in the Upper Valley are either homeless or couch-surfing or in some other tenuous situation.
But it's a start.
Did Jake Obar of Kinney Pike paint his hat or the wall?
-- The donors that helped close the budget gap include the Jack and Dorothy Byrnes Foundation and Peter and Jane McLaughlin.
-- The volunteers came from COVER's community, Mascoma Bank, Hypertherm, Geokon, Lyme Computer Systems, Kinney Pike Insurance and Twin Pines Housing.
-- Lebanon Paint & Decorating stepped up big time.
-- Big Fatty's delivered pulled pork sandwiches and coleslaw, while Ramunto's laid down some pizza.