A year-end message from Stacey Bartholomew, CHC President
As I look out on the fall landscape quickly turning into winterscape, I reflect on this year for Creating Housing Coalition and this city of Albany in which we strive to rise up to meet the needs of our unhoused neighbors. I sit with Sandy and hear how she is back to living in her van for the winter. I hear from Jane who is living in her car for the first time and hasn’t had to do a winter unsheltered before. Both yearning for a place to stretch out their bones and rest without listening for the knock at the window. “You can’t be here,” the voice is patient but firm, “move along.” Then there is Benny who lays down wherever he can get out of the rain. He does better when he can remember to take his insulin, when his 55 year old body that looks 75 is functioning well enough to get him where he needs to go. These folks are on my mind when I wake in the early morning snuggled under my flannel sheets with the rain tapping gently on my window. With shelters and camping overflowing I think: “Almost there, we’re almost there!”
2023 saw us chopping down trees and clearing the area for the ground breaking ceremony with Mayor Johnson. Over 100 people came and our beloved Nancy Marshall turned the ceremonial first shovel. Now we have 21 of the 27 houses in various stages of construction. Foundations have been poured and the walls are going up. Volunteers regularly assist construction workers in cleaning up the work zone to reduce costs. The resident center’s doors have been installed and the Magnolia loft model is quickly rising. We anticipate the resident center will be completed by the end of 2023. The smell of newly cut lumber fills the air! Almost there, almost there!
Moving forward, we need to complete the electrical networking, get started on six more tiny homes, put in the water connections, and finish the interiors of all buildings. Next steps require leveling the grounds, pouring sidewalks, and landscaping. Finally, completion of the project will include installing parking spaces and solar panels.
We are well on our way to meeting the contractor’s deadline, which is to have the whole project completed by March 31, 2024. In preparation of the last construction phase, Creating Housing Coalition will host an event to raise the last of the funding for this project. We need to raise only the remaining 5% of construction costs. We have already raised over 4.4 million dollars in grants and donations and need $350,000 to make it across the finish line. Almost there!
One morning in the spring, I will wake up to the smell of the earth rising up to meet the new day and residents like Sandy and Jane and Benny and Nancy and Mark and David will hold their keys, open their doors, and finally be home. Almost there, we’re almost there!
You can help us open the doors to our unhoused friends, bring dignity back to Albany – the city that cares, the city that knows its neighbors, the city that knows that we are better when we have a home to come home to. Thank you for your generous year end giving. With your support, we can be more than almost there, we can be all the way home!