published Monday, August 26th, 2013

Dayton's We Care Community Services' transitional emergency shelter closing

DAYTON, Tenn. — Haven House, We Care Community Services' transitional emergency shelter off Railroad Street, will close its doors Dec. 31 and reopen as public housing.

"It's been a blessing ... a miracle," said a shelter resident who requested anonymity.

Dayton Housing Authority officials built the four-bedroom brick unit in the Taylor Hills community in 1971 and had leased it to We Care in 1987 for use as an emergency, transitional shelter for individuals and families.

The agreement between the two entities stated that the authority provided the building and utilities, while We Care would handle the daily operations, case management and pay the insurance.

The feasibility of the public-private partnership the house relied on won't exist, which will leave the Haven House leadership and the community at a loss, T.S. Strickland, project manager with Ideaworks, a marketing firm used by We Care, said in an email.

Housing authority Executive Director Lisa Bonadio confirmed that We Care could use the unit until December.

"It's our understanding that the unit had helped one to two families at a time," Bonadio said.

We Care President Walter Ring said in a news release that the unit had "sheltered 12 people for a total of 213 nights" in 2012. The status change of the unit, he said, could leave many people without roofs over their heads. He said We Care received requests from residents in Hamilton, Bledsoe, Roane, Meigs and Rhea counties to use the facility.

"We've had a good relationship with them [We Care] for 26 years," Bonadio said, but the decision stemmed from a constant demand from four to 10 families in need of a four-bedroom unit.

Kimberly McMillian is based in Rhea County. Contact her at kdj424@bellsouth.net.

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