ETSU breaks ground on center to help the area’s homeless

JOHNSON CITY, TN (WJHL) – Thursday, officials broke ground on the new home for the Johnson City Downtown Day Center. East Tennessee State University announced plans for the new center during a ceremony.

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The new building will be 4,365 square feet and will offer updated resources and medical equipment which will allow for the expansion of medical, behavioral, and social health services for homeless people in the Johnson City area.

Alan Levine with Mountain States Health Alliance said they will continue their partnership with ETSU and provide the quality care that those who visit the center are in need of.

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The center will also help those who are in need of the life skills they need to get back into the workforce and find public housing.

Jennifer Whitehead who is the director of the day center, said, “We don’t just treat them for one thing, [not] just medical, we are holistic. Yeah, I can treat you for your diabetes, but …if you still don’t have the skills to get the job, or you can’t read and write, the treatment is going to make you feel better,  but you are still homeless.”

Annually, the center sees an average of 11,000 visitors, including more than 300 primary care appointments.

A $1 million federal grant will help pay for the new facility.img_1633

ETSU officials said they expect to see a large increase in the number of people that they serve. They said getting the grant to expand the center was vital to keep serving those in need.

Whitehead said, “We are anticipating probably 150% increase in a number of people that we can treat. And we will probably triple most of our services.”

Officials plan on starting construction on the new facility in March 2017.

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