PAHOKEE, Fla. — Local and county leaders were on hand Thursday morning to open a newly-renovated facility in western Palm Beach County that will house residents in need.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held for the Lake Village at the Glades located at 1749 E. Main St. in Pahokee.
The building was rundown and riddled with mold before the renovation but is now a haven for people down on their luck.
It is a 42-unit apartment complex that will operate in conjunction with the Belle Glade Assessment Center to provide those in need adequate shelter.
The facility is a non-congregate shelter offering individuals or households living space with some level of privacy with its own room and sanitary facilities.
The one-bedroom, one-bath units will also be used to help people in the Glades isolate if they tested positive or were exposed to COVID-19.
"We cried out to the county. We begged. We pleaded with them to make this happen, and today God answered the prayer," Belle Glade Mayor Steve Wilson said.
The idea has been tossed around for years, but in June, county commissioners approved the plan, which also includes a homeless resource center in Belle Glade along with this facility in Pahokee.
"We don't have hotels in abundance here in the Glades community like they do on the coast, so we really didn't have any options," Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay said.
The building was condemned and covered in mold, but the county took possession and renovated it from top to bottom.
The renovation of the Lake Village at the Glades facility took six months and was partially funded with CARES Act funds.
"To be able to walk through here and see the rehab job that was done is simply nothing short of a miracle," McKinlay said.
The facility does not accept walk-ins but operates on a referral basis only. Participants will be referred to the shelter only after they have been assessed and deemed qualified.
The county is also partnering with Gulfstream Goodwill, employing 27 staff members from western Palm Beach County. At least 18 units are already occupied.
"Not only do the people that come through this site have an opportunity to begin to stand on their own two feet, but Goodwill ... has an opportunity to give them a job," said Keith Kennedy, the president and CEO of Gulfstream Goodwill.