City provides update on Greater Richmond Continuum of Care services for those experiencing homelessness

The mayor was joined by Kelly King Horne, Executive Director of Homeward, the lead agency of the Greater Richmond Continuum of Care (GRCoC), to provide an update on services for unsheltered individuals and families in the coming months. 

The city is a key funding partner of the GRCoC, the region’s network of support for those at imminent risk of or experiencing homelessness. 

The GRCoC offers wraparound services for unsheltered individuals, from housing to food delivery to job training. The variety of GRCoC member organizations currently provide a spectrum of services. Most shelter options are non-congregate, traditionally a hotel room to allow for privacy and independence and guard against community spread of the coronavirus. 

Said the mayor of the challenge: “Until the Richmond region and the nation as a whole address its affordable housing crisis and eradicate poverty, there will always be more individuals and families experiencing homelessness and housing instability who rely on and, moreover, deserve our compassion and coordination.”

You can be a part of that compassion and coordination by promoting the GRCoC’s access options. 

If people are experiencing homelessness in Richmond, there are a number of ways to access the pipeline of services the GRCoC offers:

1. Call the Homeless Crisis Line at 804-972-0813. This phone line is the main access point for people experiencing homelessness. Currently, if an individual calls this line, someone from the GRCoC is staffing it and will assist them with their shelter needs. If the line is busy, please leave a message with immediate contact information, as the GRCoC staff are receiving a high volume of calls.

Because of this high call volume, the city is funding an expansion of the hours of the Homeless Crisis Line. This will increase accessibility after traditional workday hours, from 8:30 a.m. – 6 p.m. Monday through Friday to 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday as well as add weekend hours of 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., along with the necessary staffing.

While the GRCoC prepares for this significant service expansion, the city will assist by staffing a 24/7 line pilot, where people in need of shelter or services can call the Homeless Crisis Line after workday hours and during the weekends in order to access shelter and services. That pilot will go live at 6 p.m. the evening of Friday, October 16.  

2. Visit an Access Point or Connection Point. At these physical locations, GRCoC member or partner organizations will offer a safe, welcoming indoor space and access to the pipeline of care through the Homeless Crisis Line or a case worker. 

Connection Points in the City of Richmond include the following:

RVA Light – 504 W Broad St.

REAL Life – 406 E Main St.

OAR of Richmond – 3111 W Clay St.

Main Branch of the Richmond Public Library – 101 E Franklin St.

Southside Plaza – 4100 Hull Street Rd.

These are in addition to the GRCoC Access Points where services are provided. You can see a complete systems map, provided by the GRCoC, here. 

Because of their geographic diversity and compassionate staff, Connection Points are valuable resources for the unsheltered population, and the GRCoC and city are recruiting more trusted community spaces to serve as locations. 

The mayor extended gratitude to the city partners comprising the GRCoC for their hard work throughout the pandemic: CARITAS, Salvation Army, Housing Families First, HomeAgain, Homeward, the YWCA, Side by Side, St. Joseph’s Villa, Virginia Supportive Housing, Daily Planet Health Services, Commonwealth Catholic Charities, RBHA and many others. 

Since March, the Continuum of Care has housed 790 people in private hotel rooms. In the last month, 426 people were safely sheltered in non-congregate and COVID-19 suitable congregate temporary housing. 

The practice continues; just this week, the GRCoC has housed 35 households in hotel rooms. 

Unlike in the former Cold Weather Overflow shelter, the current hotel room model affords individuals access to private space, a bathroom, heat and air conditioning, three meals a day and a network of support customized to the needs of the person.

The Greater Richmond Continuum of Care Collaborative Action Plan for October 2020 through April 2021 is available. Read it here.