"Having a place to live... ...helps my fears and gives me hope."
For twenty years, Anne was unable to obtain permanent housing due to mental illness, substance abuse and limited income. She began receiving daily services from A Place to Start (APTS), VSH's new "housing first" program. She now maintains an apartment and is continuing her journey of recovery.



  • Archive for March 2011

    Eight Little Words
    March 29th, 2011

    In many ways, this past Sunday was a day like any other. It may have been unusually cold and overcast for the end of March, but otherwise nothing very earth-shaking seemed to be going on.

    And yet, page one of section E of the Sunday Times-Dispatch featured a positively radical heading consisting of four little words in pale gray lettering: “We Can End Homelessness.” And the article beneath it, entitled “Connect Passion and Solutions,” perfectly captures with four more little words the simple yet revolutionary strategy required for achieving this ambitious goal.

    It’s simple, according to the commentary’s author Kelly King Horne, executive director of Homeward. We say we want to end homelessness in our community. And thanks to three decades of research, we actually know how to do it. So…what’s the hold-up? Why, as King Horne points out, has the total number of people experiencing homelessness on any given day in our region remained relatively unchanged since 2007?

    Does our community lack passion for or commitment to this issue? Quite the contrary. Just a few months ago, Governor McDonnell took the issue head-on when he assigned his own Senior Economic Advisor Bob Sledd to the statewide task force charged with generating an action plan. Richmond also has its own ten-year plan for ending homelessness, and the recommendations in both documents are clearly spelled out. Meanwhile, hundreds of community volunteers regularly demonstrate their deep commitment to the issue by supporting organizations in the regional homeless service providers system as well as city-wide events like Affordable Housing Awareness Week and  Project Homeless Connect.

    Didn’t somebody famous once say, “If we don’t know where we want to go, it’s unlikely we will get there”? This is the point King Horne makes when she asks, “What do we mean when we talk about ending homelessness?” How do we define it? How do we measure it? What does it look like? How do we wrap our arms and our brains around something we have been struggling unsuccessfully with for decades?

    Once we stop – really stop – thinking about the problem in terms of temporary fixes and start thinking about it in terms of permanent solutions, the answer becomes simple. Get families and individuals out of emergency shelters. Stabilize them with permanent housing as quickly as possible. Connect them to services. Problem solved.

    Can it really be that straightforward? We at Virginia Supportive Housing know it can, because that’s what we do every day.  For over 20 years, we’ve been providing permanent housing and support services for homeless individuals and families. And with a 98% success rate, we know our integrated approach to ending homelessness really works. We can prove it.

    So now what? King Horne’s inspiring commentary says it all. Connect passion to solutions. Learn more. Read Governor McDonnell’s task force recommendations. Read Richmond’s ten-year plan. Find out what other communities are doing. Then connect. Follow VSH on Facebook. Subscribe to our newsletter. Attend a presentation. Roll up your sleeves. Join our volunteer program. Be a part of our proven permanent solutions.

    Once we know where we’re going, it’s likely that we really will get there. We CAN end homelessness!

    Be Sure To Watch The APTS Documentary On March 24!
    March 22nd, 2011

    Don’t forget to watch the upcoming PBS documentary featuring VSH and A Place To Start! Virginia Currents is an award-winning PBS news magazine that celebrates remarkable people & places in the Commonwealth. Tune in to WCVE Channel 23 on Thursday, March 24, at 8:00 p.m. for a special Virginia Currents documentary highlighting the successes of VSH’s three-year-old program A Place to Start (APTS).

    A Place To Start is an innovative regional program that serves individuals experiencing chronic homelessness and serious mental illness. On January 26, VSH was proud to release a report documenting the outcomes of this highly effective program over a 20-month period. This report demonstrated a 98% success rate in keeping clients in housing and a total savings to the community of more than $320,000!

    To read VSH Executive Director Alice Tousignant’s recent blog on this program, click here. To read the RTD article on this program, click here. To support VSH’s proven permanent solutions to homelessness, click here!

    Think Homelessness Can’t Happen To You?
    March 15th, 2011

    Think homelessness can’t happen to you? That’s what Susan Schneider of Alexandria, Virginia thought….until it happened to her. 

    In 2008, Schneider, the former owner of a mortgage business, was evicted from her home after a precipitous downward spiral triggered by the real estate bust. All the comforts of her middle class lifestyle – a new Honda Accord, nice restaurant dinners, and expensive salon hair treatments – disappeared in a blink.

    Read her story, and an exploration of this common myth concerning homelessness, in the March 13 entry of 100,000 Homes’ weekly blog.

    At Virginia Supportive Housing, we know that homelessness is a problem that can affect anyone. And it does affect the lives of more than 8,800 Virginians every day. To find out more about the state of homelessness in Virginia, and read Governor McDonnell’s recommendations, click here.  To find out more about how you can be a part of our proven, permanent solutions to homelessness, click here.