Erica Holmes, the Programs Manager at Virginia Supportive Housing was inducted into the Virginia Housing Alliance Top 40 Network at the awards ceremony in June 2018! Over the past seven years, she has served the homeless population in various capacities, working both Permanent Supportive Housing and Rapid Rehousing as tools to assist her clients. She is currently the Virginia Association of Housing Counselors (VAHC) Board President, a past Instructor with Nonprofit Learning Point, a board member for Southside Transformation Opportunities for Residents and Youth (STORY), the CACH CoC Board as the Chair of the Coordinated Entry Committee, and an independent Medicaid Provider for The Department of Medical Assistance Services for the State of Virginia. Prior to her employment with Virginia Supportive Housing, Erica has more than 10 years in property management both in public housing and other affordable housing communities. Ms. Holmes holds a Master’s Degree in Human Services Program Administration from Post University and a Bachelors in Business Administration from Strayer University. When she is not providing service to homeless populations, she is caring for her three children.
Virginia Supportive Housing has been making homelessness history for 30 years now. Doors opened at the first VSH multi-unit property back in 1992. That was New Clay House, situated at the corner of W Clay Street and N. Harrison Street. Originally, there were 47 single-resident units with shared shower and kitchen facilities. Although the model wasn’t perfect, New Clay House contributed to the incredible success rate Virginia Supportive Housing achieved; in the Richmond area, 98% of the formerly homeless individuals housed by VSH did not return to homelessness.
But experience demonstrated improvements could be made. New Clay House was good, but it was not ideal. Other properties in Hampton Roads, Richmond, and Charlottesville showed fully-furnished individual studio apartments could solve the problem of homelessness better. Think of it as the difference between a lonely college dorm room and a home of one’s own.
Thirty years in, and Virginia Supportive Housing now manages 16 multi-unit properties across the state, and the time has come for New Clay House to be upgraded. Although New Clay House was how Virginia Supportive Housing first introduced the model of permanent housing with supportive services as an answer to the problem of homelessness in Virginia, the age of the property did not reflect the standard the organization had come to uphold across all other properties. As a result, Virginia Supportive Housing has undertaken an approximately $18 million dollar project to renovate New Clay House into the new New Clay House.
Not only will the 47 pre-existing units double in size, there will be an additional 33 studio apartments for a total of 80 formerly homeless individuals off the streets. Every apartment will have a kitchenette with full-sized appliances and also a full bathroom. Residents will have a community room, a private courtyard, a computer room, a phone room, a fitness room, laundry facilities, and structured parking. VSH property management and services staff can expect their own office space also, and a large donation bay is in the works as well.
Construction started in January of 2018 and is progressing rapidly. The expected completion date is in early 2019.
With the sun shining and Spring temperatures finally beginning to rise, May 9th made the perfect day for a happy hour at Hardywood Brewery. The Virginia Supportive Housing Junior Board hosted their first ever awareness event titled Hops for Housing Happy Hour in order to simply raise awareness about the mission of VSH in Virginia. We had over 75 people attend the event, including Councilwoman Kim Gray, and the Deputy Director or Health and Human Resources, Marvin Figueroa. Through the event we were able to connect with people interested in the mission, explain further what VSH does for the Richmond, Charlottesville and Hampton Roads communities, and talk about the up and coming New Clay House renovation. We were able to provide volunteer, donation and advocacy options for people interested in getting further involved.
“The permanent housing model of VSH’s mission is something the Junior Board is extremely passionate about, especially with the organization turning thirty this year. One of our 2018 goals was to identify an opportunity or platform where we could spread awareness about their mission. The happy hour allowed us to do, in addition to have the support from VSH staff.”
Overall the happy hour was a huge success. The energy and excitement in the room made it obvious that people want to help take further steps to ending homelessness in Virginia.