Transitional house for homeless veterans opening soon in Kingsport

Holly Viers • Updated Feb 5, 2018 at 10:37 AM

KINGSPORT — Homeless veterans will soon have a new place to stay in Kingsport.

The Appalachian Regional Coalition on Homelessness (ARCH) is almost ready to open its transitional housing facility, and the community is invited to an open house next week.

Where is the house?

Anne Cooper, executive director of ARCH, said the house is located at 371 Blakley Drive, hence its name, Blakley House. The property — previously used as a home for women with special needs — has six bedrooms and 15 beds, and it can house only male homeless veterans.

“The goal is that they will stay there temporarily, about four months,” Cooper said, “and then we find them housing and they go on to be permanently housed and employed.”

When is the open house?

The open house will be held Feb. 15 from 1-4 p.m. Bill Darden, Congressman Phil Roe’s field director, will make opening remarks, and the Tri-Cities Military Affairs Council (TC-MAC) will be recognized for providing $5,000 to purchase beds, a washer and dryer and other items.

The event is open to any homeless veterans who might be interested in staying at the home. It’s also open to city leaders and anyone who has an interest in community development, Cooper said.

Has ARCH operated a similar housing program before?

Prior to this year, ARCH contracted with the Salvation Army in Kingsport to house homeless veterans. ARCH funded the program through a grant from the VA, and the Salvation Army provided the space, operations, food and case management.

In the fall of last year, ARCH received word that it would no longer be receiving the grant, but the VA later decided to extend it for another year.

“At the same point that they decided to extend it, the Kingsport Salvation Army, under the impression that it was no longer going to be a grant, decided that they didn’t want to continue to provide that,” Cooper said. “So that meant we had to move it.”

How can veterans apply to stay at the home?

Cooper said all male homeless veterans who are interested in staying at Blakley House must go through ARCH’s intake process. To do this, they can call ARCH’s care-coordinated entry system at 1-800-989-CARE or visit the ARCH office, located at 321 W. Walnut St. in Johnson City.

Intakes are also done every Friday at Shades of Grace United Methodist Church in Kingsport, Cooper said.

How will this program benefit homeless veterans?

Cooper said the program not only provides room and board, but it will also provide supportive services, including case management, life skills training, employment assistance, mental health treatment and peer support.

“We’ve planned activities for them, like gardening, so they can learn those life skills,” Cooper said. “They’ll be responsible for helping with cooking, whereas at the Salvation Army, that was all done for them. We think that this is a good model to prepare them for when they do move into their own home.”