RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Richmond City Council is taking steps to tackle the ongoing homeless problem in the city as temperatures continue to drop.
On the night of Monday, Nov. 13, City Council voted to pass measures which will ultimately bring two homeless shelters to Richmond.
One will be a year-round shelter for families containing 50 beds on North 2nd Street. The other will be an inclement weather shelter on the 1900 block of Chamberlayne Avenue which will have 150 beds and be open between Dec. 1 and April 15.
The building on Chamberlayne Avenue is owned by the Salvation Army, which will operate the shelter in collaboration with the City of Richmond.
During the Monday night meeting, several people spoke out against the Chamberlayne Avenue Shelter, including neighborhood business owners who hoped city council would hold off on approval for now.
“We’re not against the homeless, what we’re against is the density,” said one speaker. “So please, let’s have an intellectually honest discussion, that we can discuss this and get some people to join instead of fighting you.”
There were also several people present at the meeting who spoke in support of the shelter.
“When you lay your head down on this cold night, when you wrap yourself under a blanket, you know where you’re gonna go, you know what you’re gonna do,” said one speaker. “But these babies, these children, these moms — they don’t know.”
Richmond Police Chief Rick Edwards was also present at the meeting to discuss how the department would promote safety at the Chamberlayne Avenue shelter and its surrounding area.
“I’ll have the precinct commander provide weekly updates on stats that were involved in crime in the neighborhood itself, and at the structure,” said Edwards.
Councilwoman Ann Frances Lambert said that the inclement weather shelter on Chamberlayne Avenue is just the first step to tackling the growing problem of homelessness in Richmond. Lambert says City Council is hoping to have the Chamberlayne Avenue shelter open as early as Dec. 1.