Opening a women’s shelter in the same complex as a men’s shelter presented a few concerns.
Rollings said the men and women will only mingle during evening meals. Currently, men have access to shower and laundry facilities when the shelter is open (6 p.m. to 6 a.m.). Women will have access to those facilities, but it will be during business hours.
Security concerns also were raised. Rollings said staff have been talked to about the possibility of boyfriends or estranged husbands showing up at the shelter. Men will not be allowed at all in the shelter. If men show up, they’ll be directed to the men’s side. Police also have been notified and plan to respond accordingly to reports of men waiting in the parking lot.
In the past, Rollings said, they’ve had women come to the Salvation Army who needed help. Without a proper shelter for them, they’d give them vouchers to stay in a hotel.
With an actual shelter that is staffed, Rollings said the cost will be a little more. But in the end, he said, it will be better for the women. Being at the Salvation Army as opposed to a hotel on the highway puts them closer to a free lunch at the facility, as well as closer to government agencies that can help them.
“Plus there’s more of a human element,” Rollings said. “Someone to talk to.”