Richmond votes to expand the Chamberlayne Avenue homeless shelter

Posted at 10:56 PM, Feb 12, 2024

RICHMOND, Va. -- Richmond City Council made a historic investment Monday night to expand the homeless shelter on Chamberlayne Avenue.

The Salvation Army is set to use the $7 million investment, along with other funds, to make three major changes:

1) Add more beds for families as well as single men and women

2) Dedicate part of the building as a community resource center offering programs for job readiness, financial education, and mental health support.

3) Make the location an inclement weather and year-round emergency shelter.

"We need a shelter here in Virginia, for inclement weather. When it's cold outside or raining outside, you have women out here with children who are homeless who can easily become a target for all types of events," Todd Alert, who experienced homelessness, said. "Dealing with the elements of nature, cold weather, not eating, not being able to shower, use the bathroom. You know, it's a serious issue."

There was a comment made by a citizen in opposition to the ordinances.

She questioned whether the Salvation Army had an oversight committee checking on the conditions of their current locations. Despite her opposition, Richmond City Council passed all three ordinances.

Samuel Kim, with the Salvation Army, said it was a huge step in the right direction.

He said he does not believe the additional beds are enough to cover all of Richmond's homeless population, but this expansion is a "starting point to improve and move forward for the next steps."

Some hope the expanded shelter will serve as an immediate access point for those in need.

Right now, a person must first call the crisis hotline overseen by the Greater Richmond Continuum of Care or GRCOC to receive immediate assistance or shelter.

That process is controlled by the GRCOC, not the city.

However, the GRCOC said it is not recommending adding any new access points but instead plans to expand staff.

It's a decision Richmond City Councilwoman Stephanie Lynch has been critical of.

"The one crux of the entire effort that we set out to accomplish was to have a better working point of entry. We can build the Taj Mahal of homeless services, but without a working front door, what good is it?" said Lynch.

Homeward told CBS 6 last week “We know that we cannot give people what we don't have. We would love to offer additional walk-in resources if the funding, services, and housing supports and units were available to do so.”

CBS 6 has reached out to the city on a specific timeline for the shelter changes but has not yet heard back.

This is a developing story, so anyone with more information can email to send a tip.

Richmond Homelessness Generic

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