City Council Unanimously Approves Historic Proposal to Address Homelessness

Feb 13, 2024 | by Rebecca Turnbull

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Advocates and City Hall say first-of-its-kind partnership would be a“game changer.”

RICHMOND, Va. (FEB. 13, 2024) – Richmond City Council unanimously approved a set of three ordinances last night that will establish a historic partnership between the city and The Salvation Army Central Virginia Area Command (CVAC) to address homelessness. The first-of-its-kind partnership is part of the city’s 10-year strategy to end homelessness. Advocates say the ordinances will be transformational and offer long-needed relief to address capacity and resource issues.

The Center of Hope

The first ordinance is a co-investment between the city and CVAC to transform their 1900 Chamberlayne Avenue location into The Center of Hope, a multi-purpose shelter facility that will have the capacity to serve families and single adults and offer an array of programs and resources through partnerships with the City’s Department of Human Services other local organizations. Plans include job readiness and life skills training, financial education, peer groups and mentorships, mental health support, and substance abuse counseling. 

“The Center of Hope represents so much of who we are as an organization,” said Stephen Batsche, CVAC’s Executive Director of Programs. “We believe in a transformational rather than transactional approach to uplifting our community members, and we are so excited that soon we will be able to offer an unprecedented level of support through these innovative programs and partnerships.”

The location for the Center of Hope, 1900 Chamberlayne Avenue, is in the 3rd City Council District and is represented by Council Vice President Ann Frances Lambert. Lambert says the all-hands-on-deck approach could be a model for future projects. “This historic undertaking is rooted in collaboration and innovation,” Vice President Lambert said. “We have to find creative solutions to solve these complex issues, and I am so glad to see so many partners acting together to bring their skills and resources to the table. I hope this inspires more projects like this in the future.”

Community Resource Center

The second ordinance dedicates a portion of the facility to a community resource center run by the city that will offer comprehensive wrap-around city services for Richmonders experiencing or at risk of becoming homeless. “Having this resource center directly inside the shelter will be a game changer for us,” said Traci Deshazor, Deputy Chief Administrative Officer for Human Services. “This facility will allow us to remove barriers for vulnerable Richmonders who are seeking help and enable our staff to connect directly with them and provide essential wrap-around services.”

Adding the Resource Center to the agreement was proposed by Councilmember Stephanie Lynch, who sits on the city’s Homelessness Advisory Council and said she was proud to vote in favor of the ordinances. “This monumental project is years in the making,” said Lynch. “I’m proud to stand with our coalition partners as we take this huge step forward to uplift and empower our vulnerable neighbors.”

Emergency and Inclement Weather Shelters

The third ordinance involves an agreement to open and operate an inclement weather shelter and a year-round emergency shelter within the 1900 Chamberlayne facility. The inclement weather shelter will operate from December to April annually and as needed during severe weather events. “This is a significant increase in the city’s capacity to address a critical need,” said CVAC Area Commander Major Samuel Kim. “These beds enable early intervention and prevent folks from sleeping outdoors in dangerous and sometimes life-threatening weather conditions.”

Mr. Shaw, a Richmonder who has relied on this year’s inclement weather shelter, said, “Being in the inclement weather shelter had helped me a great deal. It has added a substantial amount of positivity to my life, and thanks to an army of blessed warriors, I have real motivation to get back to that pinnacle of where I need to be.”

Financial Investment and Transparency
In the agreement, the city would invest $7 million into CVAC’s Center of Hope Capital Campaign under the condition that CVAC raise $8 million in matching funds. Additional terms include CVAC providing space for the city’s Resource Center and CVAC committing to operate the inclement weather and emergency shelters for ten years.

The agreement states that CVAC will not receive the city’s funding if it fails to meet the matching public fundraising goal. CVAC has a successful track record of sheltering Richmond’s unhoused neighbors since 1984 and says accountability is essential to maintaining the public’s trust. “We want to be very transparent so taxpayers can see that this investment is a true partnership and that there are mechanisms in place to ensure public funds are used as effectively as possible,” said Major Kim.

Housing and Homelessness in the Richmond Region

According to Homeward’s bi-annual Point-in-Time survey, nearly 500 people are experiencing homelessness in the Richmond region as of June 2023, an 8.7% increase from last year. The report cites loss of housing and/or employment and eviction as the root causes of nearly half of those cases. The report reads in part: “As the cost of affording a home rises, so too does the number of people experiencing homelessness.” And City Council agrees — having passed a resolution last year officially declaring housing affordability a citywide crisis, and these three ordinances underscore the council’s commitment to addressing these urgent crises.

Learn more about the work that The Salvation Army of Central Virginia does throughout the year at, follow them on LinkedIn | Facebook | Instagram | YouTube using @SalArmyRVA, or call (804) 225-7470. Your donation can still help make a difference in this community today.


About The Salvation Army

The Salvation Army annually helps more than 25 million Americans overcome poverty, addiction and economic hardships through a range of social services and youth programs and is #DoingTheMostGood at 7,600 centers around the country. Since 1885, The Salvation Army has been serving the Richmond area, and today, The Salvation Army Central Virginia Area Command meets needs across 16 localities through the Men and Families Housing First Shelter, Inclement Weather Shelter, food assistance, canteen ministry, rent and utility assistance, The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club and the Corps/Church.

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