NORFOLK — Tucked next to the Salvation Army’s Hampton Roads Command Center on Raby Road are seven homes — homes that give women and women with children an opportunity to rebuild their lives.
The Salvation Army has been sponsoring homeless women and their children through their residential housing program called HOPE Village for nearly 10 years. Before that they were helping women through Salvation Army’s motel program in Chesapeake.
The six-month program gives the women a chance to get back on their feet in a secure, gated community where they are educated and supported by a variety of programs the Salvation Army sponsors, said Major James Allison, area commander for the Salvation Army.
“We want to make them feel safe and secure,” he said, adding the program has been able to serve 167 women and 84 children since opening in 2009.
Women who participate in the program are referred through the Norfolk Homeless Action and Response Team and then placed in one of the seven homes available, he said.
The village is capable of housing 26 people at a time and for fiscal year 2018 they were able to house nine families with 23 children and 34 single women.
Of that fiscal year the program had a 93 percent employment rate and 55 people were able to land permanent housing, Allison said.
A big part of the program is helping participants learn vital life skills so they can learn to be independent.
HOPE Village does this by offering employment training opportunities and educational workshops.
In fiscal year 2018 the village had 221 employment training opportunities and 44 educational workshops.
Those can be anything from how to manage finances, operate and balance a checking account, how to keep a home and finding education resources, Allison said.
Currently, HOPE Village is running on donations alone and the program is set to break ground on another four homes on March 21, he addefd.
“We believe out model is the standard that works,” he said, adding he has seen how the women who go through the program have taken the opportunity to establish their lives and start over. “We give them hope for the future.”
To learn more about HOPE Village, click here.
To be referred for the program contact the Norfolk Homeless Action and Response Team at 757-587-4202.