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Open Doors exploring options for permanent shelter

Published: Jul. 27, 2021 at 6:41 PM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - Open Doors shelter in Harrisonburg is in preliminary talks with Presbytery of Shenandoah to potentially purchase their old church property and turn it into the city’s first permanent homeless shelter.

Open Doors has been operating out of the former Red Front Supermarket along Chicago Avenue in Harrisonburg. However, they’ve been searching for a long-term home with the hope of going from a seasonal to permanent shelter.

Open Doors’s executive director said it is early in the process and while they have had talks about the property at 1111 North Main Street, they are a long ways away from a deal.

Before they get any long-term location, the shelter says they’ll need to raise money since the Presbytery of Shenandoah property is valued at just over a million dollars.

The search has also been made more difficult since they’re now open in the summer for the first time ever, which has been a huge financial commitment.

“We’ve essentially taken what was 20 couple weeks of shelter services and are looking at expanding those to 52 weeks, so we’re looking at exponential budget growth and costs, and that keeps me up at night sometimes,” said Joel Ballew, the executive director of Open Doors.

Ballew said they will remain in talks with Presbytery Shenandoah and the city about the property. He said it would need a lot of work but that is has potential.

“The existing structure that’s there on the property now in many ways would need to be expanded considerably, we would need to think very seriously about constructing a separate shelter structure,” he said. “The property itself is what offers the opportunity for growth.”

Ballew said the building would offer Open Doors the chance to add clinic space and provide more services for the homeless.

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