Staff and volunteers welcomed the first guests of Floyd County’s new emergency community shelter on Friday, less than two weeks after plans for its location and finances were finalized.
The temporary facility, located in the Sports Academy of Rome building on Kingston Highway just east of the Rome Bypass, currently has 50 cots along with rooms to accommodate single women and families.
Bringing the shelter to reality was a communitywide effort, involving local administrators from the United Way, the Davies Shelters and the Hospitality House, as well as the city of Rome, the Salvation Army and donations from private citizens.
Its purpose is to provide an option for those who are homeless to go somewhere safe and adhere to the state’s shelter-in-place order during the COVID-19 crisis.
“When the shelter-in-place order was announced, we got to work on figuring out how to offer safety to people without places to stay,” said Cathy Aiken-Freeman with the Interagency Council on Poverty & Homelessness. “We also knew Rome’s sheltering programs were especially vulnerable to outbreak since people living in close quarters are at risk. So space would be needed for shelter guests to spread out. This was the perfect solution.”
“I am grateful that we have a place to put our neighbors who don’t have shelter for any number of reasons,” said Devon Smyth, executive director of the Davies Shelters. “With all of the work that so many groups and entities have done over the last few weeks, it feels good to have it opened and have somewhere for people to walk into that is safe, clean and hospitable.”
Rome City Commissioner Craig McDaniel was able to secure $20,000 in donations from a handful of private individuals for the United Way of Rome & Floyd County to help cover staffing and other costs of the facility.
McDaniel, a commercial real estate agent, is also credited with reaching out to John Cowan, owner of the Sports Academy building, to secure the site for the shelter at a cost of only $400 per month to cover utilities.
The City of Rome also kicked in more than $6,500 to pay the liability insurance, utilities and security for the facility. The Rome Transit Department is also providing buses to the shelter.
Those needing shelter can contact the Davies Shelter at 706-512-1152. Monetary donations can still be made by going online and visiting cffgr.org/donate.