Why does Homeward talk about panhandling?

As the planning and coordinating agency for homeless services in the Richmond region, Homeward is uniquely positioned to respond to the various aspects of homelessness, real or perceived, which affect our community. While professionals working in human and homeless services recognize that not all panhandlers are homeless and that only a small percentage of people experiencing homelessness panhandle, Homeward works to educate the community on the actual numbers around homelessness in our region and the facts around homelessness.

How many people in the Richmond region are currently experiencing homelessness?

In January 2014, Homeward conducted its winter point-in time census of those experiencing homelessness. On any given day in Greater Richmond there are 846 men, women and children who are homeless.

Of those currently experiencing homelessness, how many panhandle?

Of the 846 homeless residents counted this winter, 10.1% adults indicate that they had gotten money in the past year from panhandling or asking strangers for money.

What should community members do that want to help?

Homeward encourages community members who want to get involved to support local service providers that are directly assisting our homeless neighbors. A list of service providers can be found at www.yourunitedway.org, www.giverichmond.org or by calling 2-1-1. Volunteer opportunities can be found at www.handsonrva.org or by calling 2-1-1. Please note that many holiday volunteer opportunities may be filled already.

Homeward has also established a small fund to provide outreach workers with the flexible funds they need to help someone get off the streets. Money in this fund will be used to pay for bus tickets, photo ID’s, copies of birth certificates, and similar low cost but necessary items. Homeward will report to the community on the funds collected and the use of these funds quarterly through our website and other social media.

To donate to this outreach fund, please send a check to Homeward at 1125 Commerce Road, RVA 23224 or donate through Network for Good and add a designation letting us know you prefer an alternative to panhandling to help people get into housing.

For questions about donating to Homeward, please contact Kelly King Horne at kkhorne@homewardva.org or by phone at 804-343-2045, ext. 19.

Which agencies should community members support?

Our community is fortunate to have a number of well-run and compassionate agencies working to prevent and end homelessness for our neighbors. Homeward has not specifically endorsed any one agency, but has provided a list of reputable, local agencies and their scope of work on their website at http://www.homewardva.org/node/63.

What should I do if I want to have my organization listed in the directory for community support?

Executive Directors interested in becoming a part of the area’s continuum of care, should visit Homeward’s website at www.homewardva.org to find out what steps are involved in making your agency compliant with local and federal regulations and aligned with our regional strategic plan to prevent and end homelessness.

Does Homeward support local ordinances which prevent citizens from asking for money?

Homeward typically does not take a stance on local ordinances. The Real Change public education campaign is designed to present a strategic and effective response to panhandling, both for our neighbors in need of services and for our neighbors who want to help but are not sure how.

What impact will this approach have on those in need and panhandling to make money?

Professionals working in human and homeless services recognize that all panhandlers are not homeless. Those who panhandle in our region who are not directly in need of services may see a noticeable decrease in the amount of cash collected from the public. Alternately, our area neighbors that are in crisis will find this reduction in funds from panhandling, along with the outreach approach to the campaign, as a conduit to connect to services.

Where can I find the list of books on homelessness and poverty?

The reading list (for children and adults) can be found at www.homewardva.org/books.