HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Housing Families First, a nonprofit organization that offers people permanent housing, is expanding its facilities to give more people a place to stay.

The non-profit is expanding as the region sees its highest number of people without shelter.

According to the Greater Richmond Continuum of Care, 447 individuals are without a home or are living outside as of July 2022.

Though homelessness decreased by 36% compared to July 2021, Central Virginia is still seeing hundreds of people without any shelter at all. Beth Vann-Turnbull, the executive director of Housing Families First, said that number could be higher.

“We know it’s always undercounted because we don’t know where everybody is,” Vann-Turnbull said.

There are currently 204 people without shelters across the region, the highest count of people without shelter the area has seen, Vann-Turnbull said.

“A lot of this is pandemic-related, but also we just don’t have enough affordable housing that’s truly affordable for people working but making minimum wage or just a one-income household,” she said.

Vann-Turnbull added that low vacancy rates remain a challenge in the region.

From 2018 up until this year, Housing Families First raised $4.4 million through its Opening Doors for Families capital campaign to make more space for families without a home. The money will go toward building a private shelter entrance, 10 more shelter beds, a handicap-accessible bed and bathroom, a brand-new courtyard and improved communal areas for families with children.

Morgan ended up homeless in the greater Richmond area after giving birth to her daughter. She said they stayed with some friends and sometimes ended up sleeping in a car.

“Me having a newborn it was kind of hard for me to get new clients,” she said. “I was crying, I was depressed. I really didn’t know what to do, honestly.”

Morgan called the homeless connection hotline, which eventually placed her in the Hilliard House emergency shelter. She’s been there for two months so far, and enjoys the resources they provide.

“I can smile now. I’m starting to feel normal,” she said.

Within the past year, Vann-Turnbull said they’ve helped 679 adults and children through their programs. All of the improvements at Housing Families First will be completed by this fall.