Day 2 of Surveying [in Philly] and Two Words: Blown Away

Posted on May 18, 2011

This past weekend staff from Virginia Supportive Housing and Homeward took part in the 100,000 Homes Registry Week Boot Camp in Philadelphia. On Saturday and Sunday staff learned how to implement to 100,000 Homes Model  in Richmond. Part of that model is a Registry Week where the community administers health surveys to people experiencing homelessness. Volunteers, including Boot Camp attendees, went out at 4am three days in a row to canvas the streets of Philly to find and survey homeless individuals and families. It was an amazing experience. The blog below is after the second day of Registry Week. Please stay tuned for more information on Richmond’s Registry Week (August 1 through 5th) and how to get involved.

This is a guest post by the 100K Homes Philly Campaign. This blog post was originally posted on 100K Homes Philly blog. Tuesday, May 17, 2011 at 07:50PM

It was cold, rainy and just messy on our streets this morning, which means most people want to stay in their nice warm safe beds as long as possible. Thankfully, the 100KHomes Philly teams rose at 2 and 3 am to hit the streets of Philly and see who among us did not have a warm and safe place to be. 

Teams were deployed to Horizon House’s Navigation Center, where over 50 people slept on a floor in Mantua to stay out of the rain. We attempted to survey everyone and most agreed. Teams went again to the SEPTA [subway] concourse and now most folks knew we were coming and organized themselves into a line to do the survey. Teams that had walked the streets and found no one had learned to check under the bridges and I-95 and found 4, 5 or 6 people today where yesterday, they had seen none.   The same teams want to go back again tomorrow, because they are learning, you just have to keep looking. People are there.

Perhaps most exciting, the NEAT team (also known as Team 3) engaged a person on Monday, who had every vulnerability criteria that the folks from 100K Homes national taught us about on Sunday.  Long time on the streets, alcoholism, serious mental illness and chronic health conditions, over 60 years of age, long physical health hospital admissions and ER visits. We had to act.  So the NEAT team went and engaged him again today with his case manager of 10+ years  from PATH and staff from Pathways to Housing PA, who have housing PLUS services to offer him.  We hope we can have him housed by Friday and will keep you posted. 

KYW stopped by and did some interviews at 315 S Broad St and went out with a team. Check out their interview at

This job would be impossible without the dedication and skill of our volunteers. Please don’t lose steam now; we’ve got one more big day and dozens of more people to reach! To date, we have 377 unduplicated interviews. Even for teams that haven’t completed lots of interviews, you are giving us a better idea of where homeless people stay (and where they don’t), which is absolutely invaluable information that will have service and policy implications. Kudos to all who are supporting us.

A warm loving shout out to Project Home and Bethesda Project, that had their opening for Connelly House today.  79 formerly homeless men and women now have a warm, safe place and a community downtown, thanks to the efforts of these two tireless agencies.

Stay dry, stay safe, stay warm, till you come join us again tomorrow.  And even when this event ends, we are not done.  Stay connected to the site for updates on events or how you can support the efforts. Follow us on Twitter at @100KhomesPhilly or like our Facebook page at 100K Homes Philly.

See you tomorrow. It’s supposed to be wet, so be prepared.

1,000 Homes Campaign – What's All The Hoopla About?

Posted on April 5, 2011

Across Virginia, communities are accepting that homelessness is solvable. 1,000 Homes for 1,000 Virginians is a statewide initiative – led by the Virginia Coalition to End Homelessness – to house the 1,000 most vulnerable Virginians cycling between the streets, emergency shelters, hospital emergency rooms, jails, and prisons.

As part of the national 100,000 Homes Campaign, the 1,000 Homes for 1,000 Virginians initiative aims to compile information about the most vulnerable people experiencing homelessness, in Richmond and in other communities across the state and then systematically house them before their homelessness causes them to die.

Richmond, VA is the first city to join this statewide initiative.  Locally, Homeward and Virginia Supportive Housing are leading the 1,000 Homes for a 1,000 Virginians campaign.

So, why should we jump on this bandwagon and join this campaign?  Isn’t our community already permanently housing the most vulnerable individuals including people who are chronically homeless?

Well, we’re trying to, but we’re not always successful.  Last year, VSH successfully moved 13 individuals from our South Richmond supportive housing into their own apartments in the community.  This allowed us to fill the vacated apartments with individuals who were living on the streets or in shelters.  One of the individuals who moved into one of these vacant units had been homeless a year and was sick when he moved into this apartment.  Shortly after he moved in, he was hospitalized and never made it back to his new home.

Life on the street and in shelters is not merely uncomfortable and dangerous – it is often lethal as well. Individuals experiencing homelessness are three to four times more likely to die prematurely than the general population  resulting in an average lifespan 25 years shorter than that of the average American.

In 2010 according to Homeward, 17 people in our community like the gentleman who moved into South Richmond died while homeless or soon after exiting homelessness.  We should not accept this in this community.  It does not have to happen and indeed we’re hoping that it does not happen again.

In Richmond, there are approximately 943 homeless adults, and 165 living on the streets.   Forty-eight percent of homeless adults report a long-term disability.  And surprisingly, the cost of homelessness is higher than that of providing housing. Public services, tax dollars, and people all benefit from housing the homeless.

In undertaking the 1,000 Homes campaign, Richmond will follow the objectives and strategies of the national campaign.  On Friday, April 1, 2011, Mayor Dwight Jones helped us launch the campaign and put all of his backing behind the effort.   The launch was attended by community leaders from all sectors including health care providers, housing and homeless service providers, local and State government, and foundations.  The campaign launch sets the stage for a registry week in late July, followed by steps to permanently house the community’s most vulnerable citizens. 

In the next few months, we will:
1) Build a strong action-oriented local team that is ready to drive tangible housing outcomes;
2) Conduct a census in our community to clarify the demand for housing and create a by-name, photograph registry to help determine the need for local resources;
 3) Line up housing and support resources by bringing together private, non-profit and mainstream sources of housing and services to house people using person-specific data;
4) Move people into housing by working together to match people to the housing, service models, and rental supports best targeted to their needs;
5) Help people stay housed by partnering with community agencies to ensure that housed individuals are able to maintain housing, critical to the success of the program.

In short, by working together and specifically identifying and housing those most likely to die if left unhoused, we will do what we have not been able to do before—prevent people from dying on the streets by connecting a real person to an apartment immediately and giving that person a chance to survive and thrive in stable housing.  Find out more about how you can join us in this worthwhile effort. Send an e-mail to [email protected] to learn more about volunteer opportunities or attend an information session.  We can’t do it without your help.

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