Hopewell to launch ‘City of Refuge’ effort

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HOPEWELL, Va. (WRIC) — A program credited with helping people living in Atlanta’s most dangerous zip code is moving to Hopewell to help the city turn itself around.

‘City of Refuge’ brings community leaders together to tackle issues that lead to generational poverty.

Hopewell Commonwealth’s Attorney Rick Newman says the Atlanta-based program is expanding to other areas, and Hopewell stood out because of the socio-economic challenges the city’s 23,000 residents face.

“The high school dropout rate is high, unemployment is high. A lot of it is drugs,” Newman explains. “That goes hand in hand with the single mother who’s trying to raise how many of her kids and doesn’t have an education or any ability to really get a job.”

Hopewell will use the Atlanta program model to initially set up GED classes with free childcare. There will also be a focus on driving instruction to help individuals get their license.

In the near future, the Hopewell City of Refuge effort will provide transitional housing, drug treatment and job training in one complex.

“It’s really going to be building a community of people trying to better themselves,” says Newman.

City of Refuge started at an Atlanta church in the 1990’s and has grown to be a compound that includes several services. The area where it operates sees 60-percent of all the murders in Atlanta.

Newman says Hopewell leaders are signing a deal with City of Refuge on Tuesday, March 20. The program will be up and running by fall.

“It will be a big boom for Hopewell,” says Newman. “I think Hopewell is getting ready to see some big things happening.”Find 8News on 


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