Doors Open at Pioneering Homeless Shelter
America’s newest — and perhaps most thoughtfully designed — homeless shelter is complete and ready to
Last month, MUST Ministries celebrated the completion of its 43,556-square-foot MUST Hope House, designed and built from input provided by staff, volunteers and clients. Grand-opening events featured Gov. Brian Kemp as guest speaker, as well as public tours of the facility.
Thanks to a successful capital campaign and an ambitious vision, the MUST team planned the two-story shelter with specific needs of clients at the forefront, making MUST one of the first organizations in the country to do so. The nonprofit more than doubled the number of people it is able to shelter and serve.
“In all of MUST Ministries’ 50 years of service to those experiencing poverty, we have never seen a greater need for our help than we are seeing now,” MUST President and CEO Ike Reighard said. “In just two years, we have gone from serving 33,000 people a year to likely close to 60,000 people this year. The MUST Hope House not only gives those families a place to sleep but also provides them with a sense of dignity and respect.”
The impressive new facility — just off Bells Ferry Road near Cobb Parkway in Marietta, not far from its predecessor — has 136 beds, plus 36 respite beds for inclement weather; a chapel; a dining hall with picture windows to help alleviate claustrophobia; a kitchen; a rooftop family retreat with play areas, tables and seating; a playground area; a satellite medical clinic with three exam rooms; laundry rooms; and an on-site clothing boutique, where clients can shop.
Ten large family rooms, each with five beds and a private bath, allow families to stay and sleep together, and the Children’s After-School Learning Center gives kids a place to read, study, do homework and work with tutors. The workforce development service offers clients a jobs counselor, a computer lab with 10 work stations for creating resumes and completing job applications, and private rooms for making phone calls.
The shelter also provides outreach services, such as case management, restrooms, showers and job assistance, for those who come for temporary help but are not housed there.
Other amenities include two classrooms, staff offices, staff and volunteer break rooms, meeting/conference rooms and staff workrooms.
“It’s amazing to think of how many lives will be changed at the MUST Hope House for many years to come,” Reighard said. “From providing shelter to feeding our children to helping with job placement, the whole mission behind MUST Ministries is to provide hope. With this new facility, built specifically with our clients’ needs in mind, we know that the MUST Hope House will do just that.”
For the past 33 years, MUST has given thousands of families a place to sleep in the Elizabeth Inn in Marietta, but the next chapter in the nonprofit’s history started when clients began moving into the new shelter at the beginning of May.