Voices from Asheville’s Emergency Shelter, Part 1: Tony and Lisa

Tony and Lisa
Through their stay at the Emergency Shelter, Tony and Lisa worked with Sunrise Community for Recovery and Wellness to fill out paperwork to get into permanent housing.



This spring, the City of Asheville began providing rooms for unsheltered people experiencing homelessness at several hotels in the area, including at the Ramada Inn, 148 River Ford Parkway. This incredible opportunity was made possible by an unprecedented level of federal funding from several sources. It played a key role in keeping our homeless community members safe from COVID-19 as they had a safe, non-congregate setting to stay in. The City thanks its partners in the effort to safely shelter people in hotels, which include Sunrise Community for Recovery and Wellness, Homeward Bound and BeLoved Asheville.


The benefits of the plan to shelter homeless individuals in a high-access emergency shelter like that at the Ramada Inn have been great, and have positively impacted many people who have stayed there. While the goal is always permanent housing, it’s important to celebrate the other benefits that can come from providing our community members with a safe and stable place to stay. From June 1 to September 30, three people moved to permanent housing, 21 engaged in substance use treatment (including MAT and detox), 54 applied for jobs, 26 started employment, and 123 received connections to foundational supports and other crucial services (including obtaining IDs, SNAP, Medicaid, and education). Right now, there are 80 people staying at the Ramada Inn.


Through the next month, we’d like to share the words of some of our community members who have been staying at the Ramada Inn, first-person experiences we’ve received from our partners at Sunrise Community for Recovery & Wellness. Let’s start with Tony and Lisa:


How has Sunrise helped you? 


“Sunrise has helped us fill out the appropriate paperwork and was able to get us into permanent housing. They continuously provide us with a hot meal and we have a set time and day to have our laundry washed, dried and folded. They help us with our dog—Zena, the staff members love her like she is their own. Sunrise is currently helping us get our social security card and driving license and once that is completed Sunrise gave us an application to Working Wheels in order for us to get a car,” said Tony and Lisa.


Tony and Lisa are getting married next month and Lisa wanted to give Sunrise a shout out for helping with ideas and resources to make their dream wedding come true. Tony said that Sunrise has helped him keep a stable place to rest until he received full time employment, which he has had for months now!!! He said that the staff has taught him to be responsible and accountable also how to set goals and stick to them. 


Sunrise has “helped me change my way of living and my way of thinking,” said Tony. “We are thankful for the free bus passes each month because they do not have a car yet so buses are their primary means of transportation!” said Tony and Lisa.


How has living at the shelter helped you? 


“It helped us to sleep in a bed and not on the streets. Gave us shelter from the rain and the snow. Provided hot showers to take after a long day of work. Being at the shelter has become a safe haven for me. We don’t have to watch our backs with our belongings every time we need to step away,” said Tony.


They both said the hot meals that are provided at the Sunrise office have been amazing and they love having a warm room to go and eat dinner together. Tony and Lisa are also believers of God and they use their room for bible studies and fellowship with other believers that encourage them to keep pressing forward! 


“We are so grateful for Sunrise and the help that they have given to us. We couldn’t of done it without y’all’s help and resources,” said Tony and Lisa. 


We at the City of Asheville are proud and grateful to have had the opportunity to help serve Tony and Lisa. Their progress is truly incredible. They have come a long way through their own efforts and we were honored to provide them with a stable place to stay so they could achieve their goals. We look forward to sharing more stories with you through the next month.


Read more: What is an emergency shelter, and why does the City of Asheville want to open one?