Craig’s Doors in Amherst to open resource center Monday

Staff Writer
Saturday, June 17, 2017

AMHERST — A new resource center that will provide year-round support for homeless individuals, people at risk of living on the streets and those transitioning back to housing opens Monday.

Craig’s Doors: A Home Association, Inc., which operates the seasonal Craig’s Place homeless shelter, is launching the center from a trailer in the parking lot at the First Baptist Church, 434 North Pleasant St.

Shelter Director Jade Lovett said the intent is to offer a steady presence for shelter guests and others, along with private counseling with caseworkers and representatives from agencies.

“This will be a central location for guests to come in and be connected to local and regional resources,” Lovett said.

The Planning Board recently allowed the change of use for the trailer, which was originally brought to the site to serve as a dining commons for the shelter.

The resource center will be open Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., but will open at 10 a.m. Wednesdays because of the weekly breakfast at the Unitarian Universalist Society in downtown Amherst.

Lovett said the center will allow shelter staff to engage with guests and ensure they aren’t going backwards in their pursuit of housing during the months when the shelter isn’t open. The center is also expected to be part of the shelter operations when it reopens in November.

While there is already assistance available through the Amherst Survival Center and Amherst Community Connections, Lovett said the resource center is an important supplement.

As director of housing services, Rachel Weiss said it is important to have a place that connects Craig’s Doors staff and volunteers all the time to assist people locate housing and jobs, write resumes and learn about services.

As critical, she said, is a place for them to keep belongings.

“A storage facility is a big deal,” Weiss said.

Homeless people, she said, are at risk of losing important documents and it can be harder to get to appointments when having to lug possessions everywhere.

The center will also be a central drop-off place when police officers or Department of Public Works employees find items that belong to homeless, such as tents and sleeping bags that periodically need to be removed from private property.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.