This is a guest post by Alison Jones-Nassar. Alison is the Manager of Volunteer Resources at Virginia Supportive Housing. This post was originally published on the Virginia Supportive Housing blog.
Bruce Henshaw, a 60-year-old veteran, has been homeless and living on the streets of Richmond for three years. He now has a home as a result of the 1,000 Homes for 1,000 Virginians – Richmond Campaign and moved into a Virginia Supportive Housing apartment on Thursday August 25th. He is the first person to receive housing as a result of the Richmond campaign.
Henshaw, who has lived in Richmond since the 1960’s, became homeless when he lost his job at a car lot that closed down in 2007. He had difficulty finding a new job because of health problems, and he eventually lost his home. He slept in his trailer for a few months, but had to sell it and began living on the street.
“It’s hard to get back up once you start going downhill.”
The 1,000 Homes for 1,000 Virginians campaign is a statewide initiative, led by the Virginia Coalition to End Homelessness, to identify and house vulnerable homeless individuals who are at increased risk of death without intervention.
Henshaw was identified as vulnerable, due to his age and health status, during the Richmond campaign’s Registry Week, held August 1 – 3. Eleven teams comprising more than 100 community partners and volunteers canvassed the streets of the city to compile a detailed registry of the homeless, including medical and other information. VSH, Homeward, and other community partners are using this data to identify the most vulnerable members of the region’s homeless population and to prioritize them for permanent housing.
Two hundred and eighteen homeless individuals in the Greater Richmond region were surveyed and 118 of that number, or 54.1%, are considered vulnerable. Thirty-one of those identified as vulnerable are veterans.
Henshaw said it is hard being homeless and that his new apartment “will change a lot” in his life:
“It will make me feel better about myself and I don’t have to worry about night time…I don’t have to worry about getting mugged, beaten up, or killed.”
VSH is committed to housing 45 vulnerable individuals identified through the campaign. The residents will pay a portion of their income as rent, and they will have a variety of supportive services available to them in their new homes. Volunteers and supporters are needed to assist with move-ins and other activities. To find out how you can support VSH’s proven permanent solution to homelessness, click here.