VIRGINIA BEACH — The city’s Housing Resource Center will turn 1 year on Sept. 12.
Here’s how the past year has gone:
The integration of the departments of Housing and Human Services was the biggest help to the community overall, said Ruth Hill, homeless services and Housing Resource Center administrator for the city’s Department of Housing and Neighborhood Preservation.
People having the ability to make a “one stop shop” at the center has made the it more efficient, she said.
For example, 323 people were able to be connected to public assistance, 186 were connected with employment services and 291 were served at the health center, according to data from September 2018 to June 2019 the center provided.
Hill attributes the integration of all the departments to the successful reach of the new resource center.
The center’s goal has not changed over the year, “to make homelessness rare, brief and non-recurring,” Hill said.
Both Hill and Erin Walker of VB Home Now said affordable housing is a huge issue in the city, something both the Housing Resource Center and VB Home Now hope to tackle.
VB Home Now is a local nonprofit working with the city to tackle community issues such as homelessness, said Walker, resource development coordinator for the city’s Department of Housing and Neighborhood Preservation.
From September 2018 to June 2019, 277 people requested housing or shelter assistance through the center, officials said.
The lack of affordable housing and the limited resources the city have make it hard for everyone to find a place to stay, both Walker and Hill said.
VB Home Now is hoping to facilitate donations to provide stable housing options for those experiencing homelessness in the city, Walker added.
Who’s reaching out
Since the center is only in its first year of operation, officials are still determining who is seeking services and what programs work best to serve that population, Hill said.
The center has noticed people don’t have much difficulty accessing the center itself, so they’ve stopped providing mass transportation to get people to their front doors.
“We do still provide transportation options on a case by case basis, though,” Hill said.
As far as determining their population, those coming through the front doors tend to be elderly with multiple medical issues at a time such as mobility issues, diabetes and chronic pain.
Those experiencing mental health and substance abuse issues make up the majority of the single population.
Hill also said families who come to them are experiencing high levels of need.
There are multiple complex issues they are facing that have contributed to their homelessness such as medical issues, multiple evictions, children with special needs and missing documentation.
By combining the departments of Housing and Human Services, Hill said they were able to better serve both of those populations over the past year.
They placed 32 families in on-site housing at the center from September 2018 to June 2019 and placed 29 individuals in the center’s single room facilities and permanent housing facilities, according to data provided by the center.
Overall, 352 individuals were housed within the community, including the center’s facilities.
This figure includes singles and families with children.
To learn more about volunteering with VB Home Now, click here.
To learn more about the Housing Resource Center, click here.