CAMPBELL, Ohio (WKBN) – An abandoned church in Campbell is being renovated into a homeless veterans transitional housing unit.
Tammy Bernard-Lipkovich, a homeless outreach worker, was approached by Mayor Nick Phillips when he saw a need for the project in the area. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, 48,000 veterans were homeless in 2015.
Saturday was the first day of the renovation process.
“It’s a huge building, it has a lot of potential,” she said. “I’m very excited, but there’s a lot of work that needs done.”
Bernard-Lipkovich plans for the upstairs part of the building to be a community center that can be used for different events or meetings. The downstairs area will be strictly for veterans in need.
“The upstairs will be the community center and then there’s a whole separate downstairs that’ll be the dorm rooms,” she said. “We’ll have a family unit, they’ll have separate showers. There’s a kitchen downstairs and then there’s a community room downstairs, too.”
She says it will also feature an American Food Force site, which will likely be an orchard or garden to provide food for anyone who is hungry.
Veteran Ron Blattel, who used to be homeless himself, volunteered on Saturday. Bernard-Lipkovich was his counselor and helped him get care.
Blattel wants to help others in similar situations, and says the Mahoning Valley is in desperate need of a facility like this.
“Being part of the transitional system before, [the current system] is kind of lacking a lot,” he said. “A lot of it is funded by the VA itself, so people just kind of look at us as a paycheck.”
“I’m hoping to have wrap-around care people that work not only with the community, but the veterans too for case management, mental health or medical screenings,” she said.
Several different organizations including the Bearded Sinners of Ohio showed up to help clean the building out. They’re hoping to have the project completed within the next couple of months.