‘We need a building’: Petersburg faith leaders scramble to find homeless shelter

The Tri-Cities

PETERSBURG, Va. (WRIC) — As freezing temperatures approach in Central Virginia, church leaders in Petersburg are scrambling to find a shelter for the city’s homeless. 

With nowhere for the city’s homeless men to go, a local church opened up as a temporary shelter when the Salvation Army closed its men’s shelter last year. 

The church is no longer in the position to host the homeless as it puts together a Christian school. Leaders of the church told 8News they need to act fast to find a place soon.

“We need a building,” St. Joseph’s Catholic Church Outreach Minister Lynne Stanley told 8News. 

Outreach ministers from churches in Petersburg are teaming up to find a spot to house the area’s homeless.

“The homeless men in this area are just forgotten,” Stanley said.

 Garrett Gibson, the Castaway Ministries founder, spoke with 8News about the concerns in Petersburg.

“It’s been rough,” Gibson explained, “every building we’ve found we’ve had meetings for a year with the city to no avail, just everyone’s led to a dead end.” 

Part of the problem is finding a building up to the city code. Faith leaders thought they found an ideal spot but were told by Petersburg the building would need $20,000 for a new sprinkler system.

“We’re only looking at four months for a warming shelter, December, January, February, March. These people come in at night, they stay overnight,” Stanley told 8News. “There’s somebody out there who has a space that we can borrow, we can use for just the four or five months that we would be open.” 

Gibson told 8News that he holds this issue close to his heart.

“I was a single dad with a two-year-old, had lost my job and lost my place to live,” he told 8News.

Pillows, cots and blankets have been stocked so now all Petersburg needs is a shelter.

“I pray that somehow we will come together as a community and we will take care of the homeless people in our area,” Rev. Lucy Dorr, a First Baptist Outreach Minister, told 8News. 

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