Tuscaloosa Center of Hope
The Tuscaloosa Center of Hope provides shelter, nutritious meals, counseling, job placement assistance, educational opportunities, health and substance abuse referrals and vocational rehabilitation for men, women and families. The Center of Hope currently serves the citizens of Tuscaloosa, Greene, Pickens, Fayette, Hale, Bibb, Sumter and Lamar Counties.
After our shelter was destroyed by a tornado in 2011, our invaluable community came together and raised the funds for our new and improved shelter, which opened in February of 2016. Thank you so much to all who helped in making this dream come true! We now house three wings centered on a state of the art cafeteria and kitchen, In addition, the building houses all of the support staff for the residents and our Social Service Assistance Programs. The new building also adds an additional five family apartments, for a total of 73 beds.
In addition to a bed, laundry, bathing and two hot meals per day, residents have access to GED classes, a computer lab for online job applications and continuing education courses, substance abuse classes, money-management courses and permanent housing assistance. A case manager works with each resident during and after their stay to ensure that they have access to the resources they need and to ensure they are working toward their goals.
The rebuilt Center of Hope allows The Salvation Army to again provide for the needs of the homeless in our community, but also allows us to reinstate our Community Kitchen feeding program that provides hot meals to those families living on the edge. Homelessness is not only an issue of a lack of adequate housing but is compounded by unemployment, lack of job and educational skills, inability to manage money and mental or physical disease. The Salvation Army strives to address all of these needs through the other programs and services we provide.
The Salvation Army has contracted with the Tuscaloosa VA Medical Center to reserve 28 of their beds for referrals from the VA.
History—The Day Things Changed
The Tuscaloosa Corps has been providing housing and shelter assistance to the homeless in Tuscaloosa since 2003. However, after a tornado hit in 2011, the ability of The Salvation Army to adequately assist the homeless and homeless veterans was severely limited.
On April 27th, 2011 everything in Tuscaloosa changed. An EF4 multiple-vortex tornado devastated portions of Tuscaloosa and Birmingham. The tornado left a path of destruction over 80 miles long through Greene, Tuscaloosa and Jefferson Counties that killed 64 people and caused more than $2 billion in damages. The Salvation Army’s Tuscaloosa Corp located at 2901 Greensboro Avenue was destroyed by the tornado that hit the area. Thankfully there were no injuries and the services provided by The Salvation Army did not stop but were carried out at a secondary location located at the corner of Greensboro Avenue and 21st Street, only a few miles up the road.
The Salvation Army did not stop providing housing for the homeless even with their primary shelter destroyed. After the tornado struck, The Salvation Army rented 8 beds for veterans from the Tuscaloosa VA Medical Center. Since the tornado, The Salvation Army has purchased, built and successfully relocated the Tuscaloosa Corps to 1601 University Boulevard E, Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Administrative and thrift store services are fully operational at the new building. The new Center of Hope is built on the site of the original building and houses a shelter, large commercial kitchen, dining room and social service offices. Also in recent years, the Tuscaloosa YMCA has made the decision to discontinue providing the services of their homeless shelter. As a result, the Tuscaloosa area was without a freestanding homeless shelter. The resources available to the homeless in our community were extremely limited, but now there is hope—thanks to the support of donors and our community, the new Center of Hope shelter is now a reality!