The Organizations and Programs in Richmond, VA

Homeward

Homeward is a non-profit organization in Richmond that works to “prevent, reduce and end homelessness by facilitating creative solutions through the collaboration, coordination and cooperation of regional resources and services.”[1] They provide valuable data collection services to the Richmond community on the state of homelessness by doing the Point in Time Count twice a year in addition to conducting year round research on the state of homelessness in Richmond. Virginia. The author assisted them in the January 2016 Point in Time (PIT) Count as a volunteer assigned to a portion of the metro Richmond area to survey. The data and surveys collected during the Point in Time Count are “critical in building an effective community-wide response”[2] in eliminating homelessness as the research is used by other local organizations in order to tailor their services to the needs of the community. In the July 2016 PIT count, 607 adults were counted as being homeless in Richmond and 79.4% of those people opted to fill out the survey for more information. Of that group, 22.7% identified themselves as veterans with 96.3% being males and 64.4% of the veterans being African American. The average age was 51.9 years old.[3]

 

Virginia Supportive Housing

Virginia Supportive Housing (VSH) is a non-profit organization that was established in 1988 with the purpose of “develop[ing] and provid[ing] permanent supportive housing for homeless single adults.”[4] Unlike other organizations, they use the ‘Housing First” method that works to house the individual before beginning to tackle other troubles such as mental health care, substance abuse, and job searches, as these issues can be extremely hard “for homeless individuals to overcome those barriers while living on the streets.”[5] Once the person is housed, VSH case managers work with them to help them get the care and services that they need to be successful. Since 1988, Virginia Supportive Housing reports that they had great success working with the Richmond homeless community saying that of those who they have worked with, 95% do not return to homelessness and the average income of a VSH individual increases by 127% within a year,[6] as the addition of stable, permanent housing is a key factor in an individuals ability to hold a steady job.

 

Liberation Family Services

Liberation Family Services (LFS) is a transitional housing facility in South Side Richmond that was previously known as Freedom House. When Freedom House announced its closure in 2013, Liberation Family Services absorbed the Freedom House property and facility to be able to continue serving those in crises. Liberation Family Services provides housing, food, job search assistance, clothing, access to public transportation and case management to all residents. They work to make sure that 100% of their veteran clients “receive benefits, counseling and transportation to the VA Medical Center” when they need it.[7]  LFS contracts with other service organizations in the area to provide financial counseling, health and wellness counseling, and permanent housing support for their clients, reporting that  83% of their residents move into “self-sufficiency and permanent housing within 12 months” of entering the LFS programming model. [8]

 

HUD-VASH Voucher Program

These organizations, Virginia Supportive Housing specifically, work with the VA and Housing Authority to help clients obtain a HUD-VASH voucher that helps house homeless veterans secure stable and affordable housing. The HUD-VASH program’s “ primary target population is the Veteran who has experienced multiple episodes of homelessness, is suffering from mental health and/or medical complications, has been homeless four or more times in the prior three years, or who has been continuously homeless for one year or longer.”[9]  In 1992, the V.A. partnered with Housing and Urban Development to create a program that combined case management with subsidized permanent housing solutions to help homeless veterans find and keep stable housing. The HUD-VASH voucher program pairs veterans and case managers, who work together to assess their situation and create a Housing Stabilization Plan. This plan takes into account the veteran’s needs in terms of types of housing, mental and physical health care needs, and recovery treatments in order to “enhance the veteran’s ability to live in safe and affordable permanent housing of his or her choosing.”[10] The HUD-VASH program works with the Housing Authority and landlords to supply affordable housing options for veterans. The housing voucher requires the veteran to pay approximately 30% of their income to the landlord, and the Housing Authority will pay the remainder. [11] To be eligible for a HUD-VASH housing voucher, the veteran must fit the McKinney-Vento Act definition of homelessness where they are either, “lacking a fixed, regular, adequate nighttime residence, or identifying as his or her primary residence a shelter, welfare hotel, transitional or temporary housing facility, or public or private place not designed for, or ordinarily used as, a regular sleeping accommodation.”[12] The veteran must also be eligible for VA medical services, and need case manager assistance in securing housing.[13]

 

 

The participants in this project come from many different parts of the country, but all ended up in Richmond, Virginia at some point during their homelessness journey. All have since been housed with the help of Virginia Supportive Housing or are in transitional housing through Liberation Family Services, two organizations in the Richmond area that work with the homeless community to help house and support them during their journey. The participants in this project were referred to Virginia Supportive Housing and Liberation Family Services through a variety of other organizations ranging from the veteran’s hospital, to the Salvation Army.

Each of the participants in this project are currently housed through the HUD-WASH voucher program, other veteran housing grant program or are currently staying in transitional housing at Liberation Family Services. As expressed in their interviews, they felt positively about their experiences with these organizations and their current state in life. Many of them reflected on the hope and positivity these organizations provided for them as they were assisted in their journey out of homelessness.

 

 

[1] “About Homeward.” Homeward. Accessed 10 April, 2016. http://www.homewardva.org/about/homeward.

[2] “Point in Time Count.” Homeward. Accessed 10 April, 2016. http://www.homewardva.org/data/point-in-time-count.

[3] Homeward Point in Time Count Data, Appendix 1.

[4] “About VSH.” Virginia Supportive Housing. Accessed 8 April, 2016. http://www.virginiasupportivehousing.org/about.

[5] “How We Help.” Virginia Supportive House. Accessed 8 April, 2016. http://www.virginiasupportivehousing.org/how-we-help/

[6]  “About VSH.”

[7] “Our Service.” Liberation Family Services. Accessed 9 April, 2016. http://www.lfsrichmond.com/about-us/home.

[8] “Our Service.”

[9] Kane, Vince. HUD-VASH Resource Guide for Permanent Housing and Clinical Care. (VA National Center on Homelessness Among Veterans). Ebook.   http://www.va.gov/homeless/docs/center/144_hud-vash_book_web_high_res_final.pdf . 13.

[10] Kane. HUD-VASH Resource Guide. 11.

[11] Ibid.,10.

[12] Kane. HUD-VASH Resource Guide. 13.

[13] Ibid., 13.