ROANOKE COUNTY, Va. (WFXR) — As temperatures start to drop, the homeless population across the region is facing a yearly challenge and increased risk. One Roanoke organization says it may have found a way to help.
The Least of These Ministry, which helps homeless people in Roanoke, has gained a lease for what used to be the Apple Valley Motel. It’s located on Franklin Road near the Clearbrook section of Roanoke County. They’re planning to give it a makeover and use it to give people in need of a home, a roof over their heads.
“The reasoning behind this model would be to create affordable rates where people who are on social security and disability who are experiencing homelessness or just need shelter can have a roof over their head,” said Sandoval.
She said this is not new for the nonprofit but more of an extension of the housing part of their ministry. What used to be an old hotel will soon become a safe haven for many. Organizers said there’s a big need for affordable housing in the area.
“We currently don’t have a housing unit for people earning $914 a month who don’t get Section 8 vouchers,” said Sandoval. “This is an opportunity for them — whether it’s one week, whether it’s two weeks, whether it’s a month — whatever they need to secure shelter.”
It comes at a time when staying outside becomes more dangerous.
“There are people who are at risk of freezing to death because they don’t have shelter. So this model just offers an extended stay for someone who might be in that situation,” said the founder.
It will be called “Suites by TLOT.” The property is expected to house 30 people in 19 individual suites which will be fully furnished. The nonprofit also plans to have a shuttle service for residents from the property to downtown Roanoke three times a week.
Future tenants will be expected to pay a set affordable base. Sandoval hopes donations may be able to cover the difference.
“Our prayer is that the private sector, the corporate sector, the faith-based sector will all be able to link arms on this project,” she said. “We’re trying to raise 100 thousand dollars so we can finance everything, the start-up, the initial costs, furnishing, things like that.”
Sandavol said any and all donations are welcome. If you would like to volunteer they are hosting events where the community can come out to get the property ready. The first event is on Saturday, Nov. 4, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
“This ministry relies largely on this community, and it’s been so generous to support us. We just need that support more than ever now. We’re just trying to make a positive impact in our Valley,” explained Sandoval.
Additional volunteering events and times will be posted on their socials. The project is expected to start welcoming residents in January of 2024.