Transitions DMC invites the community to its grand opening and open house at its non-profit shelter helping the homeless – the most vulnerable people in poverty – at 515 S. Main St.
The event will take place from 1 to 4 p.m. on Sunday and will offer self-guided tours. Board members will be there to answer questions. Refreshments will include homemade pastries.
Since opening Jan. 20, nearly six years to the day after Transitions DMC became a ministry to the homeless and poor in Southeast Iowa, the 13-bed emergency shelter has helped guiding 62 people into permanent housing, according to Craig Fenton, founder and chairman of the board.
In total, Transitions DMC has helped around 500-600 people.
After:Transitions DMC, city officials explore tiny houses and other housing options for area homeless people
“The shelter is a community effort. We can’t do this work if we don’t have the help of the community,” Fenton said.
He said the community has been “very generous” with grants and donations, and some churches continue to send aid. Food pantries provided items like milk and cereal.
No cooking except microwave or air fryer available until the shelter can install an industrial range hood and get a nod from the fire marshal, restaurants, homeowners and businesses provide evening meals.
“We would really like people to see what their dollars are doing,” Fenton said. “We’ve built a state-of-the-art homeless shelter that the community can be proud of. It’s not just a shell. To see is to know that something is really going on.”
The shelter is open seven days a week and welcomes men, women and children.
It will be up to the residents of the shelter to decide if they want to be on site during the open house.
According to Fenton, the local need for overnight shelter is high.
Fenton estimates that 400 men, women and children are homeless on any given night in Burlington, sleeping in doorways, cars, abandoned homes and in parks.
They can come in a police car, alone, and each year cities with homeless resettlement programs give thousands of homeless people one-way bus tickets out of town, ostensibly to reunite them with their family and friends, and some, as well as a few train arrivals, land here with nowhere to go.
Upon arrival at Transitions DMC, homeless people find a helping hand for a new “transition”.
Transitions staff work with other agencies to find permanent housing and employment for homeless people.
They help people who need to get the IDs required for employment or social services they qualify for, such as Medicare, Social Security Disability, or SNAP, and the shelter has wireless and computers to help them.
Right now, Fenton said, it’s much easier to find jobs because there are so many available. While convicted felons might have gotten a tough job before, currently, “you must have screwed up really big enough that somebody wouldn’t hire you,” he said.
On the other hand, finding affordable housing is a challenge, he said.
The first thing to do is get people off the street. starting with an admissions process that uses triage based on immediate need and the number of beds available.
A pregnant woman or a woman with children has priority, for example.
They fill out a three-page federal form, provided by HUD, to assess their needs.
“Once accepted, they come in, are cleaned and we feed them. Sometimes they need rest and recuperation after sleeping under a bridge,” shelter manager Mike Goldensoph said, explaining that they are then put in contact with a social worker.
Goldensoph is a success of Transitions DMC.
He arrived there straight from prison, struggling with alcoholism and PTSD from his military service.
He went into recovery and, with a love of helping people, settled into his current position.
“I thought it would be a good marriage,” Goldensoph said.
Fenton said Transitions DMC is still welcoming donations, but no clothing, except for new socks and underwear.
People may not realize everything the shelter needs, like feminine hygiene products, cleaning supplies, laundry toiletries.
“What people use at home, we probably use here,” Fenton said.
Transitions DMC has a chapel, and people can see it during the open house.
With little staffing funds, the shelter had to discontinue its day program of offering open laundry and the kitchen, but might be able to offer them again if people volunteer, he said. note.
While Transitions DMC previously distributed $600,000 worth of furniture donated by hotels doing renovations, businesses and others without a sprinkler system in the garage, that program can no longer be offered, he explained.
Donations of bus tokens and taxi tickets are always welcome, so people can find and secure jobs, at least until they get up, Fenton said.