When one door closes another one opens. However, the location transition from Dixie Care & Share to Switchpoint may be tougher for people mentally than physically.
The newest shelter, Switchpoint, will be taking over the area’s homeless population as it continues to serve those in need. Switchpoint opened it’s doors in September of 2014, as a homeless shelter and community resource center. It will now be used as a transitional center and food pantry for all of St. George and surrounding communities.
The goal for both homeless shelters was to provide housing to people during an emergency or crisis situation, as well as helping them get back on their feet while looking for employment and affordable housing.
What needs to come next, is the affordable housing.
Employees at Dixie Care & Share will meet with job counselors on Wednesday to discuss potential future opportunities, however, they will not be offered employment at Switchpoint.
Switchpoint Executive Director Carol Hollowell said they will not be looking to hire any new staff during the merger. Hollowell said they have not had an empty room since they opened last fall and have actually been at max capacity. However, their goal is to continue to work toward permanent housing for those clients so they won’t have to pursue an even larger shelter.
Unlike Dixie Care and Share, Hollowell said residents at Switchpoint aren’t required to leave on a daily basis to search for work but are required to be working towards that. The shelter also offers addiction classes, case workers to help with employment, and even yoga.
Bus stops are nearby and shuttles are sometimes provided from other facilities to residence in need. Those residents who are employed can also earn points to secure a bicycle to get around on. She said those who can work are encouraged to work. Those who can’t and are on disability aren’t required to, but they are more focused on searching for more permanent housing. Hollowell also said every week a police dog comes and sniffs the building and the cars in the parking lot to make sure there are no drugs or paraphernalia being housed inside or around the facility.
Switchpoint is funded by federal, state and private grants and local donations. About 60 percent of the funding for the operations comes from federal and state funds with the other 40 percent coming from private funding. The City of St. George owns the Switchpoint building, in which the police department also has an office in.
“We need donors and we need volunteers. There’s a never-ending of people who want to commit their time, talents and treasures to an operation this size that deals with poverty because it doesn’t stop.” said Switchpoint Executive Director, Carol Hollowell.
Friends of Switchpoint board of directors chair. Dr. David Dangerfield, said the group looking into providing more permanent housing has a September deadline to file it’s first application to the state for low interest loans to develop and build the first 20 units, wherever those might be. He said Still looking for an area where the housing would be a good fit, close to bus stops, and potential employment opportunities as well as resources for those residence that would be looking to flourish there.
Currently there is an estimated 600 homeless people in the Washington County area.