CARES Act money will help fund new women’s transitional housing in Johnson City

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JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – The nonprofit housing organization that operates men’s transitional housing shelter Manna House plans to open a women’s shelter after the Johnson City Commission approved CARES Act funding of more than $250,000 Thursday.

The commission also approved a similar amount for the Salvation Army to expand its facility and provide additional services for veterans. Both approvals will use parts of a one-time $522,539 amount in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds for which the city is eligible under the CARES Act.

Fairview Housing operates Manna House in downtown Johnson City and expanded its services during the pandemic to include a nearby leased house.

Those services are available only to men, and Fairview’s director, Bob Garrett, said the grant money will aid purchase of a nearby home to stand up a program aimed at women. He called the service “desperately needed” in Johnson City.

“Other than an abuse alternative (shelter) in town there just isn’t really much housing for women, and it would be the same type program that we have at Manna House,” Garrett told News Channel 11 Thursday.

Fairview’s expansion on West Walnut Street has allowed it to serve about 40 men in a setting that includes many wraparound services. Most people who come there to transition from homelessness have what Garrett called a “dual diagnosis” — often mental illness, addiction or both.

“You have to help them with all those issues, so we just kind of learned to do the addiction recovery over the years on our own,” he said.

But that also includes the help of a suite of community partners, among them Frontier Health, Ballad Health, Good Samaritan and others.

Additional CARES Act money will allow expansion and improvement of Salvation Army space that is dedicated to serving veterans.

Those same services will be available to women in the new home, which could be operational within three months after Johnson City receives the funds and passes them on to Fairview.

“We’ve been looking for a place for women and planning that for two or three years,” Garrett said. “Like with the Manna House, everyone there will get free health care, free dental care, free legal services and more because of our community partners.”

The Salvation Army’s plan is to expand capacity in the portion of its facility that specifically serves veterans and to upgrade that space. That’s according to a presentation Salvation Army officials made to the city’s Housing and Community Development Advisory Board (HCDAB).

The HCDAB recommended unanimously in favor of both proposals.

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