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New ClaySupport the renovation and expansion of Virginia Supportive Housing​'s New Clay House! They're planning to make a $12M investment in Richmond's Carver neighborhood by renovating and expanding New Clay House and need City Council's approval for an amendment to the special use permit for the expansion. Please attend the City Council meeting on Monday, Feb. 23 at 5:45 p.m. at City Hall to show your support!

The following is a letter to City Council in support of the expansion:

On behalf of Homeward, I am writing to advocate for the approval of a special use permit for Virginia Supportive Housing to renovate and expand their New Clay facility. Our city will not continue to rise by pushing out our most vulnerable, but by developing inclusive communities that accommodate high-quality permanent housing opportunities in centrally located and promising neighborhoods such as Carver.

Greater Richmond’s homeless services system works hard to coordinate service delivery and enhance outcomes towards ending homelessness and building a stronger community. Stable housing, like that provided in New Clay, provides opportunity and hope for our most vulnerable residents. We are proud to have seen a 28.9% decrease in homelessness since 2009. In the past year alone, we have seen an 11.7% decrease in veteran homelessness and an 18.5% decrease in child homelessness. These successes are largely due to strategic partnerships with strong organizations like Virginia Supportive Housing.

Homeward and the Greater Richmond region have accepted the 100 day challenge to house 110 homeless veterans. While we know this is possible, we also know that it will take a lot of work. One of the first steps is outreach: making sure we are connecting with homeless veterans in our community.

What is outreach? Outreach is providing services to populations that might otherwise lack access. “Outreach is anytime a person engages with someone else when you’re not sitting behind a desk. I am making myself accessible for folks to engage with me,” says Crystal Rivera, Housing Transition Outreach Coordinator at the Daily Planet.

My first day at Homeward was an eye-opener.

I came in the office with a smiling face prepared to start working. I had my communications thinking cap on, and I was ready to edit a few documents, tap into a little bit of social media, and look at some current events surrounding homelessness. But little did I know that before I could even get settled in, I’d be asked to hop in a van and participate in Homeward’s Solution Provider Training.

2014 National Conference on ending homelessnessAs an outsider, it can be easy to see homelessness as a deeply entrenched issue that will always be a reality. There are countless reasons why individuals and families find themselves experiencing a housing crisis, and some just seem more resilient than others. The more I think about the issue, however, the more I realize that the solution to homelessness itself (not poverty – that’s a bigger issue) is pretty simple: get people off the streets and into housing. Real progress and strategies towards ending homelessness were the focus of the 2014 National Alliance to End Homelessness conference that took place in Washington, DC. While there were many themes and important takeaways from the event, if I had to pick just one it would be this: ending homelessness (itself) is absolutely possible and is already happening in communities across the country.

We know that data is critical to ending homelessness as it allows us to understand who is experiencing homelessness and informs service providers what is needed to quickly transition clients into permanent housing. Getting data can be difficult, and requires the presence of numerous volunteers in order to reach the maximum amount of individuals. The more people we talk to, the better the picture we get of area homelessness.

On September 27, Kelly and I attended a conference hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond and co-sponsored by Council of Community Services,Homeward, The Planning Council, Project HOPE, Virginia Coalition to End Homelessness, Virginia Department of Veterans’ Services, and Commonwealth of Virginia – Governor’s Office. The conference was titled Collaborative Impact: The Case for Reducing Homelessness.

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