RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A permanent homeless shelter could be coming to Richmond’s Northside.
City leaders plan to introduce a motion to implement a year-round shelter, which would be located in a Salvation Army building on the 1900 block of Chamberlayne Avenue, at Monday’s city council meeting.
Councilwoman Ann-Frances Lambert, whose district includes where the proposed shelter would be, said it could be the solution the city needs when it comes to giving citizens who need it a warm place to stay as temperatures continue to fall.
“We hope that this will be a location for those who are unhoused in our city have an actual place to come for entry to receive services, information, a hot meal, place to stay out of the cold,” Lambert said.
The site would be called “the center of hope”. The shelter would be ran by the Salvation Army and have 150 beds through the winter with at least 50 beds throughout the rest of the year.
“We’ve been working on a solution that would provide to the City of Richmond a place where people can count on for an inclement weather shelter, for years to come. Not just for the season, but for the years to come,” Executive Director of Program Services for the Salvation Army of Central Virginia, Stephen Bastche, said.
The building has been used as a temporary shelter in the past. However, the permanent shelter has been met with some opposition from surrounding businesses.
“A lot of it is loitering, individuals that once the shelter closes, where do [those] individuals go? A lot of, you know, folks are saying defecation on the street. So, you’re talking about a lot of mental health issues that are occurring here on our streets,” Lambert said.
Lambert said she’s been talking with surrounding businesses and holding community meetings to hear feedback on the proposal and clear up concerns.
“We’re gathering all that information from the businesses who really had issues with some of the homeless individuals around here. But again, this is a complex issue. And we’re just trying to work together to make sure we have the right thing,” Lambert said.
The city currently has a temporary inclement weather shelter open on Broad Street for those who are looking to stay out of the cold. However, Lambert is hoping this more permanent solution can come as soon as December 1st.
“We want to make this a point of entry for those who are unhoused to have, so that way, caseworkers and management can really keep track of those individuals that need help and making sure that they get the right services,” Lambert said.
Lambert said they’re planning to have another community meeting about the shelter before City Council officially votes on the measure at the Nov. 13 city council meeting.