‘Band-Aid on a gunshot wound’: Lacking funding, Rock Hill’s ROC to permanently close

Renew Our Community, a nonprofit homeless day shelter and crisis assistance center in Rock Hill, will permanently close its doors Wednesday evening.

The 10-member ROC Board of Directors voted Tuesday morning to shut down operations because of inadequate funding, Executive Director Iris Smalls-Hubbard said. The day shelter will open Wednesday and permanently close at 5 p.m.

ROC, founded in 2011, sees more than 125 clients a day, Smalls-Hubbard said. She said funding from the community has significantly decreased in the last year.

“With the growth, unfortunately, comes more homelessness,” Smalls-Hubbard said. “They’re being pushed out of their homes in low-income areas. We were trying to struggle to keep up with the growth financially. But we went from seeing 20, 30 people a day to over 100 people a day.”

ROC, which has about seven employees and 32 volunteers, has undergone multiple changes in recent months. The day shelter moved to a new location in June at 546 S. Cherry Road, which is also home to Pathways, a Christian-based nonprofit with a mission to create one location for multiple agencies and services for people in crisis.

The former executive director Bruce McKagan retired officially July 12 and Smalls-Hubbard took over. Soon after, ROC Emporium, a clothes closet and thrift store, closed at the end of July.

Board Chairman John Hipp said despite the management change and reduction in expenses, it was not enough to offset the decreased financial support.

“There are so many people asking for money — Miracle Park, Pathways — and what we’ve seen as an organization is a lot of the businesses started to reduce their contributions to the ROC because they were obligated to help with some of these other things,” Hipp said.

Smalls-Hubbard said it was a hard decision.

“We wish we had a week,” she said. “It’s just that we need to start winding it down. We’ve been putting Band-Aids on it to make it this two weeks and another two weeks.

“At some point, it’s a Band-Aid on a gunshot wound.”

ROC is the only day shelter in York County, Smalls-Hubbard said. She said there’s a night shelter for men and a few transitional programs, but after the shelter closes Wednesday evening, she doesn’t have another location to recommend to the projected 500 homeless in York County.

“Someone who wants to use a clean restroom can’t go anywhere else,” she said. “Someone who wants a bottle of water can’t go anywhere. Someone who wants to just sit down for a minute — there’s nowhere like that. When I stand in front of our people tomorrow morning to say that we will shut our doors at 5 o’clock, I don’t have anywhere that I can suggest they go.”

She said ROC was the main location for homeless men and women in Rock Hill.

“The board did everything it possibly could,” Smalls-Hubbard said. “We brainstormed. We did everything that we possibly and humanly could to keep our doors open. And so there’s a lot of peace in that we did. It’s not like we gave up.”

Hipp said he hopes the community will come together to address homelessness.

“This issue of homelessness is not all on her shoulders,” Hipp said, pointing to Smalls-Hubbard.

“It’s not all on the 10 board of directors’ shoulders. We felt like it was. But at the end of the day, if there are people in this community who are not committed to this, then it becomes a problem of this community.”

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Cailyn Derickson is a city government and politics reporter for The Herald, covering York, Chester and Lancaster counties. Cailyn graduated from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She has previously worked at The Pilot and The News and Observer.