WHEELING, W. Va. (WTRF) – The Friendly City will prove its name by becoming the fifth city in the nation to create a Life Hub for the homeless.
At a public meeting, organizers unveiled the details of the facility which will be a year-round, 24/7 low barrier shelter for homeless men, women, children and even their pets.
The collaborative effort includes the city, the faith community, the housing authority, the county health department and dozens of other organizations.
It would have on-site resources including medical care, education options and a case manager.
“You’d be surprised,” said Dr. William Mercer, founder of Project HOPE. “We have a fair amount of people who are in wheelchairs who have had amputations. So getting around this winter has been very difficult. Even with our Winter Freeze Shelter, one of the people—even with gloves—got a severe case of frostbite by wheeling their wheelchair to go get something to eat.”
“We are looking at several locations for the Life Hub,” said Melissa Adams, Wheeling Homeless Liaison. “One would be a new build, one would be an existing building with adding on. But we’re just in the beginning processes of that. We’re working with an architect here, Gus Kayafas, and he is providing us information on what would be the most cost effective and what would work best for the Life Hub facility.”
“One of the things we noticed was that homeless individuals coming off the street and going into housing have rules they need to follow,” said Joyce Wolen, executive director of the Wheeling Housing Authority. “And it’s difficult for them to do that. So one of the things that the Life Hub will prepare them to do is move into housing and be more successful.”
“The fact that a team of people will be working with an individual or a family to give them the services they need, under one roof and for however long it takes, to me is an important step in seriously addressing homelessness in our community,” said John Moses, Winter Freeze Shelter manager.
The Life Hub is based on a model that’s having dramatic success in other parts of the country, including one in Pittsburgh.
Right now there are an estimated 250 homeless people in Wheeling.
Over the past 12 years, the Winter Freeze Shelter has taken 1500 people out of the cold and given them a place to sleep.
Life Hub has been a 501c3 non profit in Wheeling since October.
Their website is lifehubwv.org.