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Time runs out to relocate homeless as emergency shelter at Asheville hotel ends

<i>WLOS</i><br/>Emergency homeless sheltering at Asheville's Ramada Inn will end this week
Emergency homeless sheltering at Asheville's Ramada Inn will end this week

By Andrew James

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    ASHEVILLE, North Carolina (WLOS) — Emergency homeless sheltering at Asheville’s Ramada Inn will end this week, as the city moves forward with plans to transform the hotel into permanent supportive housing.

Since April of last year, 116 people have been sheltered at the Ramada Inn, 35 have since moved into permanent housing. As of Wednesday, 32 people are still living at the Ramada with plans to move out by March 31.

“The work of ending homelessness is both systematic, you have to do this really large kind of community level systems work to build out those interventions that can then take those people, and it’s also very individualized,” said Emily Ball with the city of Asheville.

Ball said she’s been working to find new housing options for everyone sheltered at the Ramada Inn, which has been a challenge.

“It’s a real convergence of needing to pull all of the right pieces together to find a landlord who’s willing to say yes, to find the program that’s willing to say yes that can help pay the rent or a portion of the rent, that can help provide those supportive services,” she said.

With the shelter operation ending, work to turn the property into permanent supportive housing will begin in the coming months.

“We’re very close to seeing a real estate transaction,” said Nikki Reid with the city of Asheville.

According to Reid, the sale of the property to Shangri La Industries should be finalized in the coming weeks. Shangri La will work with nonprofit Step Up to convert the hotel into 115 studio apartments or permanent supportive housing. Half of the units will be for homeless veterans.

“I know that we have personally been in touch with the neighbors here and tried to listen to their concerns. I think, going forward, we are also hoping to connect them with the new property owners that will take possession of the property so that they can get to know one another,” Reid said of concerns from the community.

Construction to transform the hotel into permanent supportive housing will start between May and June. City leaders expect construction will last a year.

The city of Asheville is also looking for a consultant to develop a homelessness action plan. Eleven proposals were submitted by the March 18 deadline. A final selection could go before Asheville City Council for approval in May.

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