Covington’s homeless shelter has been staying open by scraping together enough funds to pay its monthly $6,000-plus utility bills, but now that three of its air conditioning units have failed, the shelter needs an even bigger cash infusion.
Shelter Director Clara Lett said three of the center’s eight or so air conditioning units failed this week, and the sole bid she’s received so far was $18,000 to purchase and install replacement units. She’s getting another bid tonight and hopes it comes in lower.
Currently, the shelter’s administrative offices are without air conditioning and part of the women’s shelter is also without air. The shelter is currently housing 33 people, Lett said.
“These buildings are old and these units are old,” Lett said.
Lett said she is reaching out to anyone and everyone for help in raising money to replace the air conditioners.
Shelter board member Sam Ramsey also put out the call for help Thursday. He’s promised to put up some money, and Lett said that Springfield Baptist has promised to help.
Ramsey already paid for one air conditioning unit to be replaced last year, and the Covington Housing Authority, which leases the buildings to the shelter, also replaced another unit, Lett said.
However, the remaining old units have continually failed and Lett said the shelter has spent more than $1,200 making repairs to the units, only to see a new issue pop up.
The shelter accepts donations via PayPal or in person at 7133 Turner Lake Circle, Covington.
Donations can also be given to Ramsey at Ramsey’s Furniture store, 1145 Clark St., Covington.
For more information about the Garden of Gethsemane Homeless Shelter, residents can call the shelter at 770-787-8519 or visit the website at rainbowcommunityctr.org.
County adds insulation
The air conditioning unit failures come at the same time the county is making the shelter’s three buildings more energy efficient.
Among the set of 2011 SPLOST projects for District 4 that the Board of Commissioners approved recently was $12,000 to improve the energy efficiency of the homeless shelter, said Chairman Keith Ellis.
Ellis said the county has paid contractors $3,000 to discover and seal up all of the places in the buildings where air leaks out – including things like caulking and installing door sweeps – and paid for $8,000 worth of blown insulation for the buildings.
Some areas of the building had virtually no insulation left, but the county is beefing up the insulation to an R-30 level, which is about 10 inches of insulation, Ellis said.
The remaining $1,000 paid for a $200 energy audit and $800 worth of materials, including installing new smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
Ellis, who used to run a company that performed energy audits for buildings, donated some materials he had to the cause.
“We hope the measures we’re taking will increase the shelter’s ability to stay open,” Ellis said.
Lett has repeatedly that the shelter’s biggest hurdle to remaining open is its large monthly utility bills.
Ellis said he wasn’t sure how much money the improvements could potentially save, but he hopes the savings will be significant.