A Marietta center dedicated to treating homeless men struggling with addiction will be expanding after receiving unanimous approval from the Marietta City Council on Wednesday.
The Extension plans to build a new campus at its current location near the intersection of Church Street Extension and Loudermilk Drive, increasing the number of beds in its men’s dormitory from 47 to 80 and adding new facilities such as an exercise room, laundry rooms and library. The Extension also provides services for women on a different campus in Marietta.
Attorney Kevin Moore, who represented the Extension before the council, said the facility is licensed with the Georgia Department of Community Health and provides long-term residential treatment with an average length of one year. Clients go out and work during the day and come back to sleep and undergo therapy. The residents must put aside money for any financial obligations and must take scheduled and random drug tests.
“If they’re willing to make the commitment to solve their problems, then they can get the help they need at the Extension and be able to exit this program … and stand on their own feet, rejoin their family, become a part of society” he said.
Moore said the Extension does not offer so-called day services such as serving lunches or handing out camping gear to the homeless. They serve clients who are willing to stick to a program of drug testing and employment. The one exception is when the weather becomes dangerous, Moore said. The Extension opens its doors as an emergency shelter when it is cold enough to kill.
During last week’s planning commission meeting, several residents came out to speak against the expansion, but there were no dissenters Wednesday night.
Moore listed several businesses in the area that have written letters of support for the expansion, including WellStar, CW Matthews and Cobb EMC.
“These are some of the most important, highly visible employers in this area. … They support what the Extension does, but also support it as employers for the Extension, their clients,” Moore said.
The council voted with little discussion. The only question came from Councilman Grif Chalfant.
“You are — does that have any affiliation with MUST? … This is a separate program from anything MUST does?” Chalfant asked.
“That’s correct,” Moore said.
“Just wanted to make that clear,” Chalfant said.
MUST Ministries, another nonprofit that helps the homeless in Marietta, is also seeking an expansion and is scheduled to appear before the city’s board of zoning appeals at the end of the month.
Mayor Steve Tumlin offered his support after the vote.
“The motion carries 7-0, and thanks for the project and all the good work you do,” he said.
After the meeting, Extension Executive Director Tyler Driver said the expansion will be a big help for the treatment center and for the people who need its services.
“We’re certainly excited for the opportunity to serve the community in the years ahead and meet the growing demand,” he said. “It will mean we’ll be able to save more lives.”