Move-in begins at homeless shelter
Facility to open in three weeks

COVINGTON - After more than a year and a half of waiting, workers and volunteers with the Garden of Gethsemane Homeless Shelter have begun moving into their new location on Turner Lake Circle in Covington.

The shelter, operated by Rainbow Covenant Ministries, is expected to open in about three weeks, according to the director, the Rev. Clara Lett.

The certificate of occupancy was recently issued after an additional phone line was installed to meet monitoring requirements from a security company, Lett said.

"It's been a long, drawn out task," she said.

In fact, it's been almost two years since the Covington City Council agreed to buy the property and help fund renovations.

Lett initially predicted the building would be ready by spring 2008. She later said summer and then December of that year. The move-in date was then extended to April 2009.

Now, it looks like the actual opening date will be toward the end of June.

The longest delay was waiting about nine months for McIntosh Trail Early Childhood Development Council to move out of the building, according to Lett. Renovations could not begin until that time, she said, noting that McIntosh was waiting on construction of its new building.

Renovations included installation of walls and a new roof, along with shower stalls and a sprinkler system,

painting and other miscellaneous repairs. There was also a delay in getting those completed and once finished, the kitchen did not meet Environmental Health Department regulations, so more work needed to be done there.

Finally, the additional telephone line had to be added before the city of Covington would issue the final certificate of occupancy.

Lett previously said the shelter would sleep abut 80 people, but the maximum occupancy has been reduced to 60, she said Monday.

Lett has said the shelter in Porterdale, located on Hemlock Street behind Rainbow Covenant Church, was so crowded in recent months that some people were sleeping on the floor. That shelter will be closed once everything has been moved to the new location, she said.

The city of Covington paid for the property on Turner Lake Circle and turned it over to the Housing Authority, which is leasing it to the shelter. The city also paid for some repairs, funding a total of $1.08 million.

A $100,000 grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development helped pay for repairs as well.

Crystal Tatum can be reached at crystal.tatum@newtoncitizen.com.