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Hope Harbor expands, allowing for more beds for the homeless

Hope Harbor expands, allowing for more beds for the homeless. (NTV News)

Hope Harbor is an organization that aims to help people experiencing homelessness – and Wednesday – they opened up a new emergency shelter which will allow them to help more people.

The new emergency shelter is adding 14 more beds, which allows them to make space for family rooms.

Hope Harbor – ‘a shelter from the storm’ is their motto. Now, they'll be able to provide shelter to more families.

"What we're really excited about is being able to add beds to our emergency shelter. We'll increase our beds from 12 to 26, which is a huge jump for us,” Executive Director Liz Mayfield said.

These family rooms will include fathers, which wasn’t allowed before. When men would come in with their families, they had to go elsewhere because the shelter was previously for women and children only.

Mayfield said it bothered her and her staff when they had to separate families because of the rule. The new shelter allows them to be more inclusive.

"We're really excited to be able to offer our beds to men, who are coming to get shelter with their families,” Mayfield said. “Previously, we had to separate families if there were people coming as a group, the men would have to stay at the Salvation Army and the wife and kids, or part of the couple would have to stay here by herself,” she said.

On Wednesday, they opened up a new emergency shelter. That side of the building (where the emergency center is) was once used for their offices. Once the offices moved across the street, they had extra space for more beds.

"The ability to get families off the street out of their cars, into a safe environment, and then hopefully, quickly transition them into our shelter," Mayfield said is the goal for their residents.

The emergency center is for those who need a place to stay for the night or up to 30 days. After that, they can they can move into the Hope Harbor transition home, where they can stay for up to 9 months.

"Once they get into our transitional program, they receive three meals a day, they will be taking life skills classes with us to learn those sustainable skills, such as, Financial Peace University, parenting, employability, all those kinds of classes that will help them really build that skill set up," Mayfield said.

For Edie Philips, also known as the house grandma at Hope Harbor, she said living in the transition home gave her strength and guidance during a rough time.

"You're flat on your back when you come here," Phillips said.

She said one cold February night changed everything.

"I knew on that night, I had no place else to go– I had no place else to take my granddaughter," Phillips said.

That’s when they stumbled upon Hope Harbor.

"My granddaughter and I came here on the 24th of February. We stayed in the emergency room shelter side for two days," Phillips said.

Fast forward 7 months later and her granddaughter, who is 19, is enrolled in college classes and lives in Hastings, and has a job.

Phillips said Hope Harbor gave her a new outlook on life.

"It's okay to ask for help. I've always stood on my two feet and made it through– by the skin of my teeth sometimes, but I found out being here that it's okay to ask for help," Mayfield said.

Although Hope Harbor starts letting people into their emergency shelter at 7 p.m., the director said beds go quickly, so it is important to get there before 7 and even call ahead of time to ensure a space.

The one thing the organization requires is that their tenants cannot have a warrant out for their arrest.

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