Dosher Memorial Hospital’s former 11th Street business office in Southport could become transitional housing for the homeless.

Brunswick Partnership for Housing (BPH) has offered to buy the building for $220,000, subject to a 10-day upset bid process. The partnership sees the property as a perfect location to house the homeless who are discharged following treatment at the hospital.

Dosher also received another offer of $215,000. The bid acceptance was formally published last week.

“It is very admirable what (BPH) is doing,” said Robert Howard, Chairman of the Dosher Board of Trustees. “We commend you for taking on this project.”

According to the partnership, the building located at 250 East 11th Street can be remodeled to provide three housing units and a small office. There is room for a play area in the backyard and the property is already fenced and handicapped accessible. One bathroom also has a roll-in shower.

BPH grew out of the long-term work of area churches that are members of the Southport-Oak Island Interchurch Fellowship. The fellowship tries to meet the needs of homeless people in the county through its Winter Shelter Program. Churches have worked in cooperation with another nonprofit, Streetreach, and Captain’s Cove Motel at Oak Island to provide lodging and food for homeless families and individuals during the coldest months of the year.

“Most of the people that we see in the sheltering are there because they’ve lost their housing,” said Becky Felton, secretary of the BPH. “We realize sheltering is necessary, but it’s not the answer.”

According to the BPH, the Winter Shelter Program served three hospital discharges this winter at the motel. The transitional program could provide a 30-day average stay for homeless hospital discharges until an individual can move to another, more appropriate, shelter.

The partnership told trustees the program could also help reduce the risk of hospital readmissions and make beds available for other patients. The program could also work with case managers to help homeless patients apply for Medicaid, which brings revenue to the hospital.

“We feel very confident it can be outfitted for the purposes of our organization,” said Steven Dillon, BPH vice-chairman. “We’re not here to ask for charity; we’re here to ask for a chance.”

Last April, the Rev. Deacon Sally Learned of St. Philips Episcopal Church in Southport and Felton of Trinity United Methodist Church started an open dialogue with area church and community members to explore the needs around homelessness and to consider forming a nonprofit to work in Brunswick County. BPH was formally incorporated by the state in October and officers have filed an application with the IRS for nonprofit status.

According to BPH, Habitat for Humanity is also looking for an affordable housing rental unit, possibly with some case management services, for those families that take longer to get prepared for mortgage readiness and home ownership. The 11th Street building provides the option for using one of the units to assist Habitat’s needs and also help generate an income stream.

The partnership believes churches would help fund the building once a site is identified for a transitional housing program. A capital campaign will also be opened to the community.

During January and February of this year, the churches served 118 people with 856 nights of sheltering. Rev. Learned provided hospital trustees with statistics that show 14.4% of county residents have incomes below the poverty level and the number of homeless children reported by the school system grew to 457 in 2018-19.

“Not all of us see that when we’re living on the coast,” said Rev. Learned.

BPH’s strategic plan includes the development of scattered sites in the county to provide time-limited transitional housing for families and the promotion of affordable housing development with local government and private development partners. The first piece of that puzzle would be obtaining the 11th Street building.

BPH’s offer is subject to an upset bid process. By law, that would require the bid be at least $11,050 over the proposed purchase price. If such an offer is made, it would trigger a second round of formal bidding.

Dosher Chief Financial Officer Dan Porter told trustees the current list price for the building is $249,000, having been reduced three times. The net book value is $265,000, and if factoring in realtor fees, selling the building for $220,000 would require Dosher to write off about $65,000.

Trustees at their March 2 meeting also voted to accept an offer of $15,050 for a 1.05-acre parcel at Dutchman Acres that the hospital was gifted 12 years ago. The offer is subject to a 10-day upset bid process as well, and was published last week.

The parcel was listed for $15,000. It is located off N.C. 211 just past Long Beach Road Extension. By law, an upset bid would have to be at least $802.50 higher than the proposed purchase price.