Lori Floyd is the director of The Right Place, a nonprofit in Anniston dedicated to providing affordable housing and supportive services to the homeless. The Right Place is at 105 W. 15th St.
What is your background in nonprofit work?
I started working in nonprofits when I was 19 years old, working at an HIV clinic. In the early ’90s, it was not a very popular place to be. I have nearly 26 years of nonprofit work, specifically with a vulnerable population — HIV-positive, substance abuse, the mentally ill — which leads me to where I am now: working with the homeless population.
Had you always planned to go into nonprofit work?
No, I was actually planning on going to school to be a music major, so that I could teach little children to sing. The summer I started working at the clinic, I was just filling in and answering the phone; that experience led me in a completely different direction. I learned a lot of things about nonprofits, including the compassion involved in working with all different kinds of people and walks of life. I stayed and kept learning more, which caused my life to take a different direction.
What is The Right Place?
The Right Place is a 501c3 nonprofit that originated as affordable housing and supportive services five years ago. A group of four friends decided that there was a gap in service; there were a lot of opportunities for housing in different areas, but there was a whole population being missed. We decided to take a leap and see what we could do to make a difference in the community. We opened with the idea of doing affordable housing based off of income; the amount you make determines your rent. You do have to pay something, but it is affordable; we never charge more than 30 percent of your total income for rent and utilities, which is what HUD declares as a fair market or affordable range for rent.
What supportive services are provided?
Once we put you in one of our units, we do everything we can to maintain you in your housing. The population we deal with has struggled to get housing in the past: the chronically homeless. Some of the gentlemen who live here were on the streets of Anniston for over six years, and now they are living in a home independently. We provide that support to make sure they overcome any obstacles that would cause them to end up back on the street. We go to the doctor with them. We go to court with them. We fill pill boxes.
Are the supportive services just for the residents?
That was originally the plan, but what we have run into is that there are still people out there who need that support. We try to provide as much support in the community as we can, but we do not have the budget to do everything we would like to do. We have “immediate need” items at our office: socks, gloves, jackets, blankets, hygiene items, snacks and anything else that you might need if you came into The Right Place after walking the streets of Anniston all day.
What happens when someone comes to The Right Place?
We have them sit down and talk to them about what is going on. From there, we decide what we need to do to solve the immediate problem. If we cannot solve that problem, then we give them whatever we can to make it more comfortable for them.
What would you like to see happen in the community, related to the homeless population?
There are so many things that need to change in the way we deal with our homeless population. If we do not change things, homelessness will continue to grow. Right now, we have one shelter, and that is about it as far as emergency shelters go. … We need shelters, transitional housing and affordable housing. If we do not do something different, we will never help them out of this gap.
Faith Dorn is a freelance writer in Anniston. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.