Community

Motel To Become Apartments For Homeless

The Days Inn at 201 Tunnel Road will be converted into apartments for the homeless.

Asheville

Homeward Bound is converting a Tunnel Road Days Inn to 85 apartments for the homeless.

Homeward Bound of Asheville is purchasing a motel for what it hopes will be a more permanent solution to ending homelessness. 85 rooms at the Days Inn motel on Tunnel Road will be converted into apartments. The organization is in contract to purchase the property as of early February. Homeward Bound committed to purchasing the location in October and has until October 2021 to close, as they are still fundraising. The total cost will be around $10 million to $12 million.

The revamped motel, located at 201 Tunnel Road, will provide services beyond shelter. The project has been named “Home is Key” by the organization. Support services will be offered through Homeward Bound’s partners, including the city of Asheville, Sunrise Community Wellness and Recovery, Haywood Street Congregation, Appalachian Mountain Centers and many others. Homeward Bound also plans to offer health care services at the location. 

Asheville’s homeless problem

For years, Asheville has had a persistent homeless problem, a situation that has been amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic and wintry weather. A homeless encampment was forcibly removed this week under an I-240 bridge, leaving many without shelter. 

Asheville’s last homeless count estimated the number of homeless at 547 people in 2020. With limited shelter space, the city estimated that on any given night, between 250 to 350 people are unsheltered at night. The pandemic has made it even more difficult to safely house the masses. Many shelters are apprehensive of admitting new residents because of testing requirements and the fear of infecting current residents.

Hope for the homeless

Homeward Bound also operates a day center called AHOPE where homeless individuals can take showers, pick up food and find a warm space to rest. In reaction to the pandemic, last year the city of Asheville contracted 60 rooms at a local motel to shelter vulnerable adults.

Since 2006, Homeward Bound has moved more than 2,170 people into housing in the Asheville area. The organization is committed to finding long-term solutions to homelessness. 89% have not returned to homelessness, according to the organization. 

Part of this success is the organization’s dedication to solving root problems of homelessness with the help of professionals within Homeward Bound and other partners. Homeward Bound works with residents on issues of mental health, long-term disability and substance abuse. It is difficult for individuals to address these problems themselves when they are in ‘survival mode’. 

Public fundraising for the motel conversion project has not begun yet. Those interested in more information or taking a tour of the property can contact Jim Lowder, strategic gifts officer and campaign coordinator via email jim@homewardboundwnc.org