10/9/2022: When PACEM opened Premier Circle in May 2021, we knew that the project came with a time limit. After all, the site was purchased with the land chiefly in mind. The existing structure—the Red Carpet Inn—would eventually be torn down to make way for low income permanent housing.
In the meantime, we were brought in to run it as a shelter for those at greater risk of contracting COVID. Within the next two to three years, we were told, construction would start on the first phase of housing. How much of the former hotel would be initially torn down no one knew for sure.
Then came the news in the Spring of this year that construction would start in May 2023. Not only that, 90% of the current units would be impacted, potentially dispacing up to 90 of our guests. The news was like a gut punch but once we regained our breath then our attention turned to our guests and how to transition them before the shelter closes at the end of April 2023.
Thanks in part to this excellent article, our community’s housing partners have stepped up, and we are busy helping our guests fill out applications for both housing vouchers (to pay rent) and available units (the newly renovated Crescent Halls is an exciting option).
That said, it is often an uphill battle for our guests to secure permanent housing and we are mindful that at least half of those to be displaced by construction will not necessarily find a place to live. As a result, we are actively planning for life after Premier Circle for both PACEM and our guests.
There is general consensus in our community that a permanent low barrier shelter is needed. The Salvation Army is our lone year-round shelter, and as necessary and a crucial piece as they are, they breathalyze and drug test which disqualifies the individuals PACEM was created to serve. Until three years ago, PACEM was only open for a maximum of 24 weeks during the coldest part of the year but there is never a good time to sleep on the streets.
Now that our work in hotels is sunsetting our attention is turning back to our core mission:
PACEM provides emergency shelter and services in partnership with faith organizations and the community.
Our immediate plans call for another season of congregate church-based low-barrier shelter. It will open in November and run for 20 straight weeks, closing at the end of March. At that point, we will be busy closing out Premier Circle.
As that program closes, we welcome the chance to imagine our own future as an organization. We have come a long way from the partnership between faith organizations and emergency responders that led to a church opening its doors in November 2004 to welcome in strangers.
PACEM’s role in this safety network remains constant: our programs alleviate the challenges of homelessness through compassionate support, relationship building, and facilitation of services. The pandemic showed how adaptable we are as a service provider, and how essential. Thank you for your continued support of PACEM throughout this next transition.