The supportive services and housing that VSH offers its residents help to change their lives through measures both large and small. Whether it’s providing a roof over someone’s head or helping them get the support they need, our work improves the lives of our residents in meaningful ways. By combining housing development, property management and supportive services, VSH delivers a unified approach to the mission of ending homelessness. Our model ensures better teamwork and coordination that deliver results in Central Virginia.
Our programs and services in Central Virginia include:
A Place to Start (APTS)
A Place To Start (APTS), a program of VSH, provides permanent housing and comprehensive mental health services to individuals in the Greater Richmond area who have a history of chronic homelessness as well as a serious mental illness.
APTS is a housing first model that provides affordable, subsidized rental housing as a first step. Comprehensive services are then offered to the tenants for as long as they may be needed. The model has been highly successful across the country in successfully housing and serving people with extensive or repeated episodes of homelessness.
An Intensive Community Treatment team, licensed by Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services, provides community-based mental health services to APTS participants. This service model is an evidence-based practice for individuals with serious mental illness who haven’t been well-served in traditional clinic-based programs. The mental health service team services are time-unlimited and available to clients 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Team members include a licensed clinician(s), case manager(s), a psychiatric nurse, psychiatrist, and a peer counselor. Team members confer with each other on a daily basis. With regular communication and with a low staff-client ratio, the team is able to anticipate and respond quickly to client needs and crises as they arise.
There is strong evidence of APTS’ effectiveness in addressing clients’ needs. A 2011 study found that 95% of participants remained stably housed and their use of hospitals and the criminal justice system was dramatically reduced, saving the community more than $300,000 in its first 20 months of operation.
HomeLink is a permanent supportive housing program in Greater Richmond that provides affordable rental housing along with intensive case management services to single adults with disabilities who’ve experienced long or repeated episodes of homelessness. Participants are referred through Richmond’s Outreach Consortium by street outreach workers who engage them in the community and guide them through the process of securing housing.
Apartment units are rented from private landlords throughout the community, and rental subsidies from the HUD Continuum of Care ensure that they are affordable to program participants who pay a portion of their income toward rent. The HomeLink case management team provides a full range of community-based services designed to assist participants with maintaining their housing and addressing health and recovery goals they may have. Housing and case management are provided for as long as the person continues to need the assistance.
Established in 2011, HomeLink has been a particularly effective approach to successfully housing individuals who have been living on Richmond’s streets for long periods of time while also struggling with multiple, life-threatening medical conditions. More than 95% of HomeLink participants have not returned to homelessness and local hospital data shows dramatic reductions in their utilization of emergency rooms and inpatient stays after being housed by the program.
Supportive Services for Veteran Families
The Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program is an initiative funded by the Veterans Administration to prevent and end Veteran homelessness. VSH administers the largest and longest running SSVF program in Virginia.
The aim of the program is to provide rapid access to rental housing for Veterans experiencing homelessness and to prevent Veterans who are unstably housed from losing their housing.
SSVF services include outreach, case management, assistance with benefits and employment, transportation, personal financial planning, and housing location. In addition, VSH may also provide time-limited payments to third parties (e.g., landlords, utility companies, moving companies, and licensed child care providers) if these payments help Veteran families stay in or acquire permanent housing on a sustainable basis.
VSH’s SSVF program serves more than 400 Veteran households a year in the following cities and counties in Virginia: Albemarle County, Charles City County, City of Charlottesville, Chesterfield County, City of Colonial Heights, Dinwiddie County, City of Emporia, Fluvanna County, Greene County, Goochland County, Hanover County, Henrico County, City of Hopewell, Louisa County, Nelson County, New Kent County, City of Petersburg, Powhatan County, City of Richmond, Surry County, and Sussex County.
Notably, in the Greater Richmond and Tri-Cities areas of Central Virginia, VSH partners with St. Joseph’s Villa to serve eligible Veteran households with children.
Shelter Plus Care
VSH is the sub-recipient for Greater Richmond’s Shelter Plus Care program which is funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Continuum of Care and administered by the Richmond Department of Social Services (RDSS).
Applicants for Shelter Plus Care must be literally homeless (in emergency shelter or living on the streets) and have documentation of having a serious mental illness, substance abuse disorder, or HIV/AIDS. Both single individuals and families are eligible for Shelter Plus Care which provides a rental subsidy to be used in an apartment with a private landlord along with supportive services from a Shelter Plus Care partner agency.
Current supportive services partners are Richmond Behavioral Health Authority, RDSS, VSH, Offender Aid and Restoration (OAR), CARITAS, Henrico Mental Health, and Chesterfield Mental Health Support Services. Applicants must be eligible for services from one of these agencies and all referrals come through the Continuum of Care’s coordinated assessment process.
VSH provides day-to-day operational support to the Shelter Plus Care program including eligibility screenings, landlord mediation, income verification and re-certification, apartment inspections, and issuance of subsidy payments to landlords.
Shelter Plus Care is Greater Richmond’s longest operating permanent supportive housing program serving more than 100 households a year with more than 95% of participants not returning to homelessness.