'Put roots here': York Co. teacher's dream of a family homeless shelter comes to fruition

Tina Locurto
York Dispatch

Three years ago, Zachery King’s life was changed when a student he was teaching at McKinley K-8 approached him after class.

“He was really upset, really distraught,” King said. “I pulled him aside and he looked up at me and said ‘I don’t know where I’m going to stay tonight.’”

Homelessness in York County affects many, including families, and King knew he had to do something. One week from now, his passion project Miss Bobbi’s Place, will come to realization.

Miss Bobbi’s Place, a shelter for the entire family, will provide secure housing for six months up to a year. There are five units, each about 1,600 square feet with three floors.

Each apartment is fully furnished, King said, thanks to donations from community members and LifePath Christian Ministries.

“There’s just an overwhelming need right now in general for homeless families,” King said. “We want a family that’s willing to make the changes that they need in order to have this sustained independence.”

Zachery King show the progress of unfinished units at Miss Bobbi's Place, a family homeless shelter on Hope Avenue in York City, Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021. He obtained the property from the York Redevelopment Authority and is working with the Community Progress Council while renovating the five-unit block of row homes. Bill Kalina photo

Miss Bobbi's Place partnered with the Community Progress Council in order to find the right families for each unit. Those who are at risk for homelessness will be selected to interview and take up residence in one of five apartments.

So far, only one of five units is fully built and furnished. Down the road, more apartments will become available, King said.

At first, all rent and utilities will be fully paid by Miss Bobbi’s Place. Through financial literacy and budget preparedness programming provided by CPC, the family will be able to start contributing a small portion of rent and utilities payments.

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At the completion of the program, King said Miss Bobbi’s Place will provide that money back to the family as a down payment on their next move.

“We’re really allowing them to put roots here and have this stability for that time frame and work on some of the issues they’re facing,” King said. “We’re not naïve to the fact that there’s obviously a reason they’re becoming homeless, so to be able to give them the skill set to work through that is really important for us.”

The budget for the first apartment unit averaged $30,000.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the completion of the first unit is slated for 1 to 3 p.m. Sunday at 461 W. Hope Ave.

“Walking through here over the past couple of weeks, you come to the realization that you have the opportunity to complete change the trajectory of a family in a positive way,” King said. “And that’s just a really powerful thing.”

— Reach Tina Locurto at tlocurto@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @tina_locurto.

Zachery King talks inside one of the finished units at Miss Bobbi's Place, a family homeless shelter on Hope Avenue in York City, Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021. He obtained the property from the York Redevelopment Authority and is working with the Community Progress Council while renovating the five-unit block of row homes. Bill Kalina photo