GREENPORT — A 25-room motel with rooms and services for homeless individuals and families is open.
Faced with a shortage of emergency housing for homeless people in Columbia County, the Galvan Foundation stepped in to partner with county government to fill the void. The Columbia County Board of Supervisors approved a contract with the Galvan Foundation for the endeavor on May 9, 2018.
The Galvan Foundation, a private organization with programs to promote home ownership, prevent foreclosures and prevent homelessness, has been remodeling the former Sunset Motel, 3550 Route 9, Greenport, to turn it into the Galvan Civic Motel. The property was purchased by the Galvan Foundation in March 2018.
In talking with other heads of Social Services departments across the state, county Social Services Commissioner Robert Gibson said other counties have similar exclusive agreements with motels for emergency housing. But Columbia County takes that model a step further to provide on-site social and mental health services.
“We’re excited to provide more intensive services like this so we can help people get back on their feet more quickly,” Gibson said.
There are many reasons a person might suddenly be without housing, whether a fire destroyed their home, suffered a medical emergency, recovering from drug addiction or lost a job, Gibson said.
Renovations took longer than initially anticipated. Construction woes, including septic system repairs, pushed back a previously planned summer opening. But, on Wednesday, those issues were behind the motel. Within a few weeks of opening, all but two of the 25 rooms were occupied.
In addition to newly renovated rooms and bathrooms, there are shared computer stations, a community kitchen, common room, laundry room and outdoor recreation space. Two rooms have been modified for Americans with Disabilities access. Six rooms are designed for families.
Transportation to and from the motel, to job interviews, the grocery store, doctor’s appointments, etc., is provided to and from the motel by Galvan and the Columbia County Department of Social Services.
As part of the deal between the county and Galvan, the county will pay Galvan Civic Motel LLC — the branch of the foundation that helped build the motel — $85 per room per night, no matter how many people occupy a room, according to the contract. Each subsequent year, the price will increase by 3 percent: $87.55 per room in the second year, $90.17 in the third and so on.
Galvan will take 30 percent of its revenue for housing the homeless, who will receive priority for rooms at the motel, and use that money to provide security, including cameras, a live-in manager, salary for a part-time assistant manager and support services in an 890-square-foot space in the motel, according to the contract.
The Mental Health Association of Columbia and Greene Counties, as part of its agreement with Columbia County, will provide two full-time case managers who will have overlapping shifts to be on site 11 hours a day, from 8:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. The case managers will coordinate a number of on-site services and referrals for county and nonprofit services, such as supportive employment programs, respite services for families, access to a mobile crisis team, budgeting classes and conflict resolution.
To reach reporter Amanda Purcell, call 518-828-1616 ext. 2500, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or tweet to @amandajpurcell.