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More room at inn

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Mary’s House in Greensboro expanding housing for homeless women.

By Chris Gigley

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Thanks to a recent grant from the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Human Services, Mary’s House in Greensboro will more than double the transitional housing it provides for homeless women and their children.

Mary’s House, which now can serve eight families at once, in January received a $754,860 Shelter Plus Care grant that it will use to acquire 16 units of permanent housing, letting it assist 60 more women and children.

One reason Mary’s House got the grant was its mix of services and its need for more space, says Craig Thomas, executive director.

Mary’s House, which is staffed 24 hours a day, provides transitional housing, life-skills training and a supportive environment for homeless women recovering from drug addition.

But while other rehabilitation services may require children to be kept with relatives or foster families during treatment, Mary’s House lets clients live in its housing with their children.

The agency’s expansion will let it serve more people and larger families, Thomas says.

The agency now has 24 applications for each of the eight bedrooms in the agency’s current six-bathroom facility, he says.

And while bedrooms in Mary’s House fit only three people, the grant will let Mary’s House buy houses, to be dubbed Mary’s Homes, that will have two, three and four bedrooms.

Along with more room, Mary’s Homes clients will have more time to recover, Thomas says.

Based on national standards for transitional homes, patients in Mary’s House may stay for up to two years.

But because Mary’s Homes will be considered permanent housing for people with disabilities, residents can stay indefinitely.

Still, Thomas says, the agency will work to motivate clients to move into their own homes.

“We give clients a life-action plan covering all areas of life, the goals they’ve set and timelines for accomplishing those goals,” she says. “Our hope is that they get marketable job skills and move into subsidized housing so we have turnover.”

Mary’s Homes is a substantial undertaking and major leap forward for Mary’s House, Thomas says.

To handle that growth, she says, the agency will work with the Greensboro Housing Authority and Family Service of the Piedmont.

The Housing Authority will receive housing vouchers and pay rent on the units, while Family Service will provide therapy, she says.

Mary’s Homes, which will cover all other costs, has applied to the Moses Cone-Wesley Long Community Health Foundation for a grant to cover the costs of hiring a case manager and setting up an office to manage Mary’s Homes.

Finding properties to buy will not be a problem, Thomas says.

“The minute the grant was announced, a number of developers called us up to let us know what was available and ask if we wanted to look at their homes,” she says.

The agency will begin looking at properties in mid-March, she says, and families will begin moving into units in early April.

Based on availability, the units will likely be spread throughout Greensboro, although Thomas says the agency will try to buy two or three homes together to make it easier for case workers to schedule visits.

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