Did you know … that homelessness is costing you more than you think?

Posted on April 13, 2010

The crisis of homelessness in America incurs many quantifiable costs. These costs include the money that it takes to place people experiencing homelessness in shelters, emergency rooms, jails and prisons, etc.

Perhaps the least examined and talked about cost of the crisis of homelessness in America is the loss of future productivity. In basic economic terms, loss of future productivity is an “opportunity cost”: the benefits which would have been received if a different course of action was taken.

The National Alliance to End Homelessness explains the concept of lost future productivity in the article The Cost of Homelessness.

“Decreased health and more time spent in jails or prisons, means that homeless people have more obstacles to contributing to society through their work and creativity. Homeless children also face barriers to education.”

One VSH client, James Trent* of Roanoke Va., found himself unable to work because of his severe health conditions. James had a bad knee and was in serious need of heart bypass surgery. After running out of money, he found himself on the streets.

Through a local shelter organization, James heard about VSH and contacted them about housing. He was finally able to receive bypass surgery, he qualified and received housing through VSH and is looking forward to beginning his new job soon.

“It’s a good feeling,” James said about his housing and ability to work again. New Clay House provides him with “privacy” and makes him “very happy” in his every day life.

By working to end homelessness instead of provide temporary solutions to the crisis, VSH hopes to provide an opportunity for people like James who, by having a place to live, will be able to contribute what they have to offer to society.

*Name was changed to protect participant’s privacy.

Story of Hope – A Home for the Holidays

Posted on December 23, 2009

For many people, this is a season of hope and fulfillment. While many of us take the simple gifts of food, housing, health, and income  for granted, Virginia Supportive Housing extends a message of hope to some of our most vulnerable citizens who struggle to satisfy even these most basic of human needs. Stories like Sam’s (below) remind us that when compassion translates into action, the gift of hope can be fulfilled. Hope is what Virginia Supportive Housing is all about.

Sam has been a resident of New Clay House since 2002. Now in his late forties, Sam struggled for years with intellectual disabilities and the challenges of independent living. Throughout school, he was in special education classes and eventually dropped out in the 11th grade. Due to his cognitive impairment (his IQ measures at 50), he has never been able to consistently support himself although he would occasionally do farm or yard work. Without a reliable source of income, he was dependent on periodic assistance from local churches.

In his twenties, he moved to Richmond with no real plan or means of support. He spent time in shelters and on the streets, occasionally living with friends. Despite the critical impact that Sam’s disability was having a on his daily functioning, his attempts to apply for disability income were repeatedly denied until Virginia Supportive Housing came into the picture.

Thanks to VSH support services staff, Sam’s SSI claim was approved within 90 days. He now has a safe place to live and a steady income that meets his basic needs. For the first time in his adult life, Sam can share in the hope and fulfillment of the holiday season. Happy Holidays from Virginia Supportive Housing!

And the award goes to…

Posted on September 21, 2009

I’m excited to announce that VSH Board Member and former tenant, Orville Banks is the winner of Homeward’s 2009 Steve Neathery Award for “successfully overcoming homelessness and helping others to make the same transition”.

The award will be presented at the Homeward’s 2009 Trends and Innovations Awards reception as part of this year’s Best Practices Conference on September 24th.

Having struggled with alcoholism for years, Orville became homeless in 2002. After spending 2 months at a shelter, he moved into VSH’s South Richmond Apartments in November of that year. With the help of the on-site support services staff, he began to address his alcohol dependence.

Having successfully dealt with his alcoholism and obtained employment, Orvillee moved out of South Richmond in 2004 to become the live-in Night Manager at New Clay House. New Clay is another VSH supportive apartment building for single adults who have been homeless.

Orvillee is passionate about giving back to his community. He serves on the VSH Board of Directors and has spoken at events, including Affordable Housing Awareness Week, to share his story with the public. He actively seeks opportunities to help others overcome addiction and homelessness, and routinely shares his story to inspire the tenants at New Clay to continue their efforts toward recovery.

Also, with the assistance of VSH’s Financial Foundations asset development program, Orvillee is working to achieve his financial management goals and is approaching the stage of pre-qualifying for a home loan.

Congratulations Orvillee! The award is well disserved.

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