- Real Estate
- Paris Flash
The Salvation Army is now operating an emergency shelter.
The organization changed its Red Shield Lodge at 350 W. Kaufman St. from a transient shelter to emergency housing last Monday. The shelter operates Monday through Friday with room for up to eight men and one family, according to corps officer Lt. Michelle Hutchinson.
“We are now beginning to operate as an emergency shelter for men and families that serve this community. We will accept people that are local, as well as transient,” Hutchinson said. “We have been working on this since we arrived, and are now able to open it up to better serve the needs of the community.”
The Salvation Army takes in clients from 7 to 9 p.m., with referrals accepted from the police, fire department or hospital throughout the night if beds are available. Those staying there must leave by 7:30 a.m., and the organization asks clients to set up an appointment with its social services case management program to help with their needs.
Red Shield Lodge is not currently equipped to assist single women with emergency shelter, and no one will be accepted who is intoxicated or poses a threat to clients or staff.
The lodge is not designed for long-term housing. A new client can stay for up to five days. After that, he is limited to one night a month for the rest of the year. After 12 months, the client can stay another five nights if needed.
“I think it’s a step forward. It’s all not perfect yet, but it’s a really good start,” said Gay Ballew, director of New Hope Center of Paris. The organization has spearheaded a new coalition to address homelessness in Lamar County. “One of the gaps we have, especially for men, has been met. There has been nothing for men in emergency shelter.”
The Salvation Army operated the center as a transient shelter for several years. Those from Lamar County could not stay there.
“Once my husband and I arrived in town at the end of June to take command of The Salvation Army here in Paris, we saw this as a critical issue that we should address,” Hutchinson said. “It just wasn’t operating to it’s full potential.”
Ballew said she appreciates the Salvation Army’s efforts.
“They’re a good member in the coalition,” she said. “They want to make a difference, and they’ve already started doing that. We’re real proud of them.”
By Jeff Parish, eParisExtra