Four days before residents must move out of the Executive Inn, a Rock Hill-based agency has organized a plan to get dozens of people places to stay while they figure out their next steps.
Dale Dove, a Rock Hill attorney and board member at Renew Our Community, said there are two steps to the plan, which was formulated over the weekend and finalized at a meeting of community agencies on Monday.
Renew Our Community was joined at Monday’s meeting by representatives from the Salvation Army, Bethel United Methodist Church, Pilgrims’ Inn, the Rock Hill school district, Keystone Substance Abuse Services, the Catawba Area Homeless Coalition and the city of Rock Hill’s Housing and Neighborhood Services.
The first step is to seek donations. The goal is to raise $300 for each of the 38 groups of people who will be left homeless after leaving the Executive Inn on Friday.
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The Executive Inn, on Anderson Road, was condemned last week by the city, after officials cited unsafe and unsanitary living conditions in a notice of violation and condemnation given to the inn’s owner, Punam Patel.
There are about 60 adults and 20 children affected by the condemnation. Dove said Monday that $300 will fund another motel room for a week for each of the affected groups.
“We’re trying to buy more time,” Dove said, to find these families a permanent solution.
That solution is the second part of the plan and involves something Renew Our Community is calling “Hope Teams.”
“There is no agency in town that can enfold and do justice for 38 rooms of people,” Dove said. “But if we put together churches and community groups that will step up, we can do it.”
What the agency is asking is that churches and community groups each adopt a room of people and serve as their “Hope Team” for the next three months, through the end of the year.
Renew Our Community will serve as the facilitator for these teams and provide training and assistance connecting inn residents to social services and other programs.
“We can make this happen,” Dove said. “We can say, ‘This will be a positive turning point in your life.’”
Dove and Bruce McKagan, Renew Our Community director, along with other volunteers, spent the weekend meeting with people at the Executive Inn and bringing them donated boxes to help pack their belongings.
The next few days will be crucial, Dove said, but he’s confident the community will come together quickly to provide assistance.
The city of Rock Hill is working with community agencies to help Executive Inn residents embrace this “new start,” said city spokeswoman Katie Quinn. “We’re very proud that the organizations in our community have come together to support them in the way we have.”