Public invited to see planned homeless shelter

Jul. 19, 2014 @ 05:28 AM

Caldwell County Yokefellow and Lenoir are holding an open house Tuesday evening for people to see what will become the city’s first full-time homeless shelter.

The city has installed a sprinkler system in the building, the former Carolina Custom Cabinets at 1129 West Ave., and some interior walls have been framed in, Yokefellow executive director Sharon Osborne said. Yokefellow now is trying to raise money so the rest of the interior construction can begin.

“We’re waiting for sufficient funds to come in to kick is off,” she said.

The interior work plus the basic operating budget for the first fiscal year are estimated to cost about $175,000. The city will own the shelter, but Yokefellow will pay for its operation.

Besides seeking donations, Yokefellow has applied for grants, Osborne said.

If the interior work can begin by the end of summer, the shelter should be ready by mid-December, she said.

The city acquired the building last year as part of a project to repair a sinkhole that opened on West Avenue where a long-forgotten box culvert failed, allowing water to erode the earth around it. Plans originally called for tearing it down, but officials realized part of it could be saved and turned into a shelter.

Caldwell County is the only county in this region that does not have a year-round homeless shelter, the press release said. The Lenoir Emergency Outreach Shelter has operated in the former Lenoir High School gym in the coldest months, usually starting in mid-December, but that creates scheduling problems because the gym also is used for community events and youth sports.

The number of homeless people in the county is uncertain, but the Caldwell County Schools have about 200 homeless children enrolled, the press release said.