Room in the Inn
women last year were kept safe and secure through RITI
A message from Executive Director Meredith Switzer regarding Homeward Bound’s shelter to home program for women experiencing homelessness in Asheville
November 2, 2020
Room in the Inn (RITI) began 20 years ago out of a sense of urgency to keep women living outside safe,
secure, and to help stabilize their lives in housing. Faith communities all over Asheville and Buncombe
County stepped up to meet this urgent need. Volunteer coordinators were enlisted who recruited
hundreds of volunteers. Faith communities opened their doors to welcome up to 12 women each night
of the week, offering a warm bed, a hot meal, compassionate care, and hospitality.
As Homeward Bound began to evolve from just a sheltering agency to one focused on ending
homelessness through housing – recognized as the “Housing First” model – these women started moving
into permanent homes. Since 2012, when the agency began tracking these moves, we have moved 133
women into their own homes with a new chance to thrive.
Up until March 2020, when COVID moved into our community, RITI continued to provide much-needed
sheltering support as these women worked towards housing placement. Understandably, the need to
limit congregate settings and reduce exposure to the virus meant that faith communities had to close
their facility doors and RITI could no longer exist as before.
In April, the City of Asheville partnered with Homeward Bound and Harrah’s Cherokee Center – Asheville
to provide shelter for the RITI ladies along with 40 other vulnerable folks who were living outside. We
moved several RITI ladies into homes, and the rest moved over to the Red Roof Inn in May when that
shelter opened. Each individual in the Inn has their own room with a shower, a warm bed, some have
microwaves, and local organizations and faith communities are providing meals and supplies.
To date, all but three RITI ladies have moved into housing, and one has a place to move into shortly.
Thirty-one women are sheltering at the Red Roof Inn and other motels throughout the city.
Even though shelter for the ladies looks very different now, the hotel shelters maintain the spirit of the
Room in the Inn program. They are living inside, safe, secure as they await to move into housing.
Discussions are underway with city staff and other providers for the possibility of creating a low barrier
shelter if and when the hotel model ends.
The heart of Room in the Inn has always been the faith communities and their volunteers. The need for
these resources is just as great now.
As we pivot our services to respond to the needs of those experiencing homelessness during this
pandemic, we still need your RITI contributions to support our Homeless Services as we continue to
provide day services at AHOPE, shelter at various motels, and ultimately work to end their homelessness
The saying, “It takes a village,” has never been more fitting than now. We cannot do this work without
of RITI women do not return to homelessness
Services & Support
Each Room in the Inn participant is treated as an individual because everyone’s needs are different. They receive a case management plan that includes a connection to services for their key areas of need, including mental health and substance treatment, education and/or employment, interpersonal violence awareness, emotional regulation, determining their path to housing and implementing that plan. This ongoing interpersonal support continues after the women are housed to ensure a successful transition into a permanent home.