Ruta Smith file photo
The All of Us center sits at 529 Meeting St.
Less than three months after opening, the lease for the building housing the All of Us resource center for the homeless has been transferred from LGBTQ nonprofit We Are Family to North Charleston-based veterans group Military Community Connection.
On Tues. Sept. 18, Charleston City Council approved the transfer
of WAF's lease to the veterans group, which describes itself
as an organization that seeks to facilitate "partnerships between community service providers and Veterans to deliver the highest standard of holistic care."
The All of Us resource center opened on June 25 one block down from the One80 Place homeless shelter. A partnership with the city, it was originally conceived by We Are Family executive director Melissa Moore as a place to serve the often overlooked LGBTQ homeless population in the area.
The center is located in a two-story, 14,102 square foot building between Meeting and Walnut streets.
With the beds at One80 Place full almost every night, city officials encouraged the organization to open its daytime "wrap-around" services to the wider population struggling with homelessness in the area. Now, WAF will cede daily operations, along with its name on the building lease, to MCC.
Melissa Moore, executive director of We Are Family, prepares merchandise at the new daytime resource center at 529 Meeting St.
"We don’t have the funding to work with adults and we didn’t have the partners who serve adult populations to come and help," Moore said in a phone interview with the City Paper. "In this partnership, We Are Family does what We Are Family does best and MCC does what MCC does best, which is to serve adults."
The Charleston Dorchester Mental Health Center, MUSC, and Origin SC continue to operate at All of Us, though they represent only a fraction of the original partner organizations that committed to serving visitors at the center. The facility will continue to serve dinner daily.
MCC is expected to be more restrictive about showers and laundry than WAF was, requiring people to work toward securing housing and employment before accessing those services.
"We desperately need more funding for healthcare and mental health services for people 'surviving' in poverty and homelessness," Moore said in a statement. "They just get shifted around from system to system or left on the doorsteps of nonprofits that aren’t properly resourced to help them."
We Are Family, which hosts support groups for LGBTQ youth and adults and trains organizations and employers on LGBTQ issues, will keep its office and thrift store on site.
The Meeting Street building is itself leased by the city, which pays the utilities and property taxes on it and is now licensing it to MCC. The city's involvement with the facility will remain the same, according to city spokesperson Chloe Field, though the terms of the one-year lease on the building are set to expire in May 2019.
A different, permanent location for the center will be considered closer to that time.
Military Community Connection did not respond to calls and emails about their takeover.
You can donate to We Are Family at waf.org/donate
and to Military Community Connection at mccunite.org/donate