RICHMOND, Va. -- Rhonda Sneed and people like her who advocate for Richmond's unhoused population continue to have serious concerns about how the City of Richmond plans to shelter families this winter.
Right now, the city's one inclement weather shelter is only open to adult men and women.
Sneed and other advocates can’t understand how immediate housing relief was not prioritized this winter for families and children like it was in years past.
As it stands, if families aren’t already placed ahead of time at the city's 2nd Street shelter, they are left on the streets with no where to go.
The situation is heightened ahead of a winter storm forecasted to move into Virginia this weekend.
“We still have children, elderly people and disabled people out here in the cold," Sneed said. “How can a city of this size not have an inclement weather shelter for families? Where is their compassion?”
When CBS 6 pressed city leaders about this issue in the past, they deferred to their work of opening a shelter for family and children on 7 N. Second Street last month.
However that shelter, operated by the Greater Richmond Continuum of Care , cannot be accessed on a walk-up basis for immediate assistance.
People have also reported to CBS 6 they have found there to be delays in the process for placement.
“A baby can’t tell you when they are cold, so a mother could be out here rocking her baby thinking they are rocking to sleep but they are actually dead in her arms," Sneed said. "Is that what it is going to take?”
Sneed hopes city leaders come out to see the situation for themselves and makes adjustments soon..
“They should be ashamed of themselves," she said. "They need to open up a shelter now, as soon as possible.”
The City of Richmond sent the following statement to CBS 6:
The City of Richmond has come a long way in terms of the quality of the services and critical regional partnerships formed to serve our unhoused. But homelessness isn’t just a Richmond issue, it's a country-wide issue. And as housing prices and rent remain high, individuals and families are struggling.
We recognize the continued importance of supporting families in crisis and are proud of the city’s historic investment to provide shelter and support. For example, we have invested millions in the Family Crisis Fund which provides critical financial support to families in crisis. Additionally, we have expanded our partnership with the Greater Richmond Continuum of Care by standing up a new 50-bed year-round family shelter at 7 N. 2nd Street along with a new 150 inclement weather bed shelter at the Salvation Army. These two shelters ARE making a difference for those in need, and I’m proud of that. That being said, there is still much more work to do. We must address the affordable housing crisis and provide an abundance of economic opportunity to stop individuals and families from reaching a crisis to begin with.
Lastly, it should be noted that there are several other family shelters outside the purview of City Hall where individuals can gain access to shelter and additional wrap around services. We ask for individuals and/or families currently experiencing homelessness or within three days of losing their housing to contact the Homeless Connection Line at (804) 972-0813.
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