Bloom discusses Home for Holidays program and it’s future

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — An effort to place families into stable housing in Monongalia County is looking to be expanded in 2020.

After a month of work between the Monongalia County Commission, the WV Coalition to End Homlessness and other local entites, the program called Home for the Holidays was able to achieve it’s goal of placing 16 households into clean homes for Christmas, beating the 15 household goal. Now Monongalia County Commission President Tom Bloom says that the program is hoping to expand past 2020.

“We’re going to move forward, we’re just going to switch the name from Home for the Holidays, to let’s just say ‘Home for Everyone’ in Mon County, that would be our goal,” says Bloom.

Home for the Holidays included several different ammentities for the families participating in the program. This included rent free housing courtesy of volunteer Morgantown Landlords, fully stocked refrigerators and home furnishings courtesy of charities such as Christian Help and food donations courtesy of Pantry Plus More. The program itself, involved 51 people representing different organizations around Mon County and Bloom says communication was the biggest difference in making this program get off to a blazing hot start.

“Communication, actually understanding what others did,” explained Bloom on WAJR’s Talk of the Town. “We didn’t realize that people were doing so many different things, but you know in a non-profit, you don’t promote it, you just do it because that is what you should be doing,” he said.

The original goal for the program, was to place at least 15 families into comfortable homes for at least through the holidays. With the families situated and the infrastructure in place, the hardest part of establishing the program are essentially in the rearview according to Bloom. Now proposals are being discussed with not only Mon County Commission, but also members of Morgantown City Council to try and gather ideas to expand upon the program which included the potential hiring of an outside consultant with $45,000 in grant funding. Bloom, offered another proposal where two people can be hired to keep the current program intact and to search for other avenues to tackle homelessness.

“Right away, you’re dealing with two major problems that are facing Monogalia County and the City of Morgantown,” he said. “It is hands on, and done now not waiting, and that’s what I would like to reccomend and I believe that the 51 committee members feel very important along that line,” he said.

For now, it is a wait-and-see process for the program and it’s participants to see which proposals will be inacted as Mon County awaits for it’s annual Point-in-Time Homeless Count, which will take place in January 2020. The hope is that with that count, especially now that there’s a budding program with just about unanimous community support, that Mon County officials along with everyone else whose participated in the program will be able to accurately determine the next course of action other than keeping the program as is. Regardless on what happens, Bloom says to expect a lot more from Home for the Holidays and it’s over 50 participants in the near future.

“And when we realized that we can still do the same thing but put it together and make a bigger process, that’s why if you’re a bigger city, you can apply if you’re over 50,000 for more grants, we just didn’t realized that,” said Bloom describing the original November 22nd meeting. “I mean it was right there staring at us, that’s what came out of this meeting more than anything, and the other realization, that we can do it,” he said.