Salvation Army shelter in Petersburg criticized for poor condition

By Ryan Nobles - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

PETERSBURG, VA (WWBT) – A leaky roof is causing controversy at a Salvation Army facility that provides shelter for the needy in Petersburg.

There is a leaky roof at a Salvation Army shelter in Petersburg and it does need to be fixed. The question is just how bad is the problem and is the agency ignoring it on purpose?

Never one to shy away from a fight, King Salim Khalfani did not mince words when he described what he found inside this Salvation Army shelter.

"The conditions are deplorable, unsafe and unhealthy for human habitation," said King Khalfani, NAACP leader.

The shelter is in an eight decade old building in Petersburg. A building owned by the city, but operated by the Salvation Army as a haven for poor men, looking to get their lives back on track.

"This is a place that changes life, in the state that it is in, it impacts lives," said Richmond Area Salvation Army Captain David Worthy.

And no one refutes that the building is in need of some serious repair.

"There are some issues with the building itself, the most significant of which is that there is a leaky roof, which causes any number of other things to occur with the building," said Worthy.

But King Khalfani believes those "issues" have led to unsafe and downright dangerous conditions. Conditions that forced one of the Salvation Army's employees to leave his job because of the impact it was having on his health. The NAACP leader claims that the local non-profit has ignored his requests to address the problem.

"Maybe it's because they are poor people, people down on their luck, people who are ex-offenders who are receiving the services and maybe they don't give a damn about their employees either," King Khalfani said.

A claim, Captain David Worthy believes is a bit overstated.

"There is no indication that the building is unsafe, the health department has been here, the fire marshal has been here," said Worthy.

And that means that for now, the Salvation Army will continue to operate as normal.

The big obstacle preventing any progress with fixing up this building is money. It will cost $90,000 to replace the roof. Its money the Salvation Army doesn't have and is hoping the city of Petersburg or private donors can help provide. 

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