Morgantown leaders support warming shelter, direct funds to help low-income residents

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Morgantown City Council is moving forward with three different initiatives that address the everyday issues by those with low-income or suffer from homelessness.

Council will use grants to fund a citywide food pantry and rent and utility assistance programs courtesy of the West Virginia Department of Economic Development. These programs would be aimed to address concerns for residents with lower income such as food accessibility and monthly bill assistance and would be funded from funds being directed to the state via the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

“This meets the HUD national objective to benefit low and moderate income persons in the community,” said Morgantown City Manager Kim Haws on the grant request.

The grants would supply approximately $500,000 for each of the programs which can be used to expand on food pantry efforts within the city of Morgantown as well a create a city run rental voucher program for those meeting a certain income criteria. With the funding directed from ARPA funds, the programs are expected to be funded until approximately the end of 2022.

“CARES Act in the amount of $500,000, this one will be used for rental and utility assistance,” Haws said. “Once again, it meets the low to moderate income criteria for users of the funds.”

Morgantown City Council also approved of approximately $20,000 to be directed from the city’s general fund, to help fund the operation of local warming shelters on a reimbursement basis. The shelters are being run in a collaborative effort by local charities Bartlett House, the Salvation Army and the United Way of Monongalia and Preston Counties, and are being supported by the city of Morgantown and Monongalia County Commission via collaboration. The shelters, are expected to run on a twenty-four-hour basis throughout the winter months and will be located at the newly established Hazel Ruby House of Hope on Scott Avenue.

“I feel like this one of our first big projects up there that we are funding,” Butcher said while pushing for extra funding towards the shelters. “I want them to feel fully supported by the city.”

An additional $10,000 of city funds was approved to be used at the discretion of the city manager. Monongalia County commissioners have also approved $10,000 for the shelter. These efforts, are part of a multi-year goal to address issues involving low income residents and unsheltered homeless who have been on the forefront of city concerns for close to two years.

“Plus there was a $20,000 grant that they have gotten in other years that they didn’t receive this year, so there’s just more need this year,” said Morgantown Mayor Jenny Selin approving the extra allocated funds.

Members of Morgantown City Council also encouraged volunteers to apply to work during at the warming shelters. Those wishing to serve the community are being asked to contact the United Way of Monongalia and Preston Counties and the Bartlett House for more information.

Councilors also approved the purchase of a Cummins 70KVW generator to be stationed at the Morgantown Municipal Airport. The purchase price of $28,965 includes a savings of $1,900 by using the Sourcewell cooperative purchasing agreement.