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“Pride Place” at Virginia Home for Boys and Girls aims to reduce homelessness of LGBTQ+ young adults

At no cost to participants, the Pride Place at VHBG program will provide safe, transitional housing for 14-18 homeless LGBTQ+ young adults annually who are between the ages of 18- 25. Side by Side will provide the case management, intake and overall support for LGBTQ+ young adults while VHBG will provide the physical space, emergency response and opportunities for learning life skills.

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Virginia Home for Boys and Girls (VHBG) and Side by Side have launched a partnership called Pride Place at VHBG to serve LGBTQ+ young people experiencing homelessness.

“LGBTQ+ young people are 120% more likely to experience homelessness compared to their peers. Although this was all the case before COVID-19, the pandemic is exacerbating an already growing problem and we are bracing for an increase in need from our community,” said Ted Lewis, Side by Side executive director.

At no cost to participants, the Pride Place at VHBG program will provide safe, transitional housing for 14-18 homeless LGBTQ+ young adults annually who are between the ages of 18- 25. Side by Side will provide the case management, intake, and overall support for LGBTQ+ young adults while VHBG will provide the physical space, emergency response, and opportunities for learning life skills. Clients will be paired with Peer Navigators through a partnership with the Nationz Foundation. Each client has their timeline for length of stay, but will typically live at the residence from two to six months.

“Virginia Home for Boys and Girls and Side by Side share a mission to provide care to young people in crisis. Our trauma-informed approach is infused into all of our transitional living services, including our Independent Living Arrangement (ILA) program that provides a strong foundation for Pride Place at VHBG,” said Claiborne Warner, VHBG president.

The Pride Place at VHBG program will be located in two brick homes on VHBG’s 30+ acre campus in Henrico County. Originally built to house staff, these well-equipped homes provide private bedrooms, and communal living and kitchen space.

One of the homes recently underwent a complete remodel through a donation from Lowe’s Home Improvement. Lowe’s also recently provided kitchen appliances for use in the second home. Homes are fully furnished and equipped with necessities including bedding and kitchen gear thanks to volunteers from Thalhimers, Pay It Forward, and Costco.

Pride Place at VHBG brings together two strong, successful nonprofits, drawing the perfect blend of expertise in independent living arrangements, trauma-informed care, LGBTQ+ specific needs, and youth services to reach a specific population of homeless young people who otherwise are likely to face living on the streets.

“With the COVID-19 pandemic, we are expediting our efforts to match the rapidly growing need. The moratorium on evictions extends only till May 31, so our partnership launch is in time for a possible spike in homelessness. Our homes are already constructed for independent living situations and our organizational partnership formed before the pandemic, so we can move quickly and anticipate opening the homes in June to meet the immediate need,” stated Warner.

About the issue

  • Side by Side along with partners at the Nationz Foundation and the Virginia Anti-Violence Project launched a Host Home program last year but recognized that multiple safe and affirming housing options for youth were needed.
  • LGBTQ+ youth are at a greater risk for homelessness. 40 percent of youth experiencing homelessness identify as LGBTQ+, yet LGBTQ+ youth-only account for 9 percent of the youth population.
  • Locally, the Youth Count study by Advocates for Richmond Youth showed 35% of youth in Richmond who are experiencing housing instability identify as LGBTQ+.
  • LGBTQ+ youth face homelessness and housing instability at disproportional and alarming rates, but there are currently few housing services in our region specifically for them to address this problem.
  • Family conflict is the most common cause of all youth homelessness. For LGBTQ+ youth, in particular, the conflict tends to be over their sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • LGBTQ+ youth experiencing homelessness are more likely to be robbed, physically or sexually assaulted, or be a victim of a hate crime.
  • A 2019 report from the Williams Institute noted that 22% of the LGBTQ+ community live in poverty compared to 16% of the general population, putting our LGBTQ+ youth at risk for falling through the cracks and into homelessness.
  • LGBTQ+ people, particularly LGBTQ+ young adults, are overrepresented in the restaurant and food industry, which has been devastated by the pandemic.
  • LGBTQ+ youth often don’t have a family connection to fall back on and seek support from. As a result, those who are newly unemployed are not far from being newly homeless.
  • One of the homes recently underwent a complete remodel thanks to the generosity of Lowe’s Home Improvement. Lowe’s also recently donated kitchen appliances for use in the second home.
  • Homes are fully furnished and equipped with necessities including bedding and kitchen gear thanks to volunteers from Thalhimer, Pay It Forward, and Costco.
  • Participants of the Pride Place at VHBG program will also have access to VHBG’s ILA Commons, a communal gathering space that includes a computer room, exercise room, relaxation room, and recreational equipment.
  • Side by Side regularly receives referrals from other homeless services agencies including Homeward, the Possibilities Project, and the McKinney Vento Project. Additionally, Side by Side has built strong relationships with St. Joseph’s Villa and their new youth outreach program to identify youth experiencing homelessness in the City as well as Commonwealth Catholic Charities and Advocates for Richmond Youth’s new Youth Hub. Referrals are also received from local foster care agencies, youth detention centers, and area hospitals.

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Government

Henrico County names Meghan F. Coates new Finance Director after leading county through budget shortfall negotiations

Coates joined the county staff in 2019 as deputy director of Finance and most recently served as acting director of the department. She will succeed Edward N. “Ned” Smither Jr. in the position. Smither had led the department since 2017.

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Henrico County has appointed Meghan F. Coates director of the Department of Finance, effective Saturday, August 1st.

Coates joined the county staff in 2019 as deputy director of Finance and most recently served as acting director of the department. She will succeed Edward N. “Ned” Smither Jr. in the position. Smither had led the department since 2017.

Coates was key to the county’s efforts this spring to navigate a $99 million shortfall — brought on by the sudden economic downturn due to the COVID-19 pandemic — as Henrico was beginning its budget process for the 2020-21 fiscal year.

As director, Coates will head an agency with more than 160 employees and a budget of $13.7 million for the 2020-21 fiscal year. Finance comprises the divisions of real estate assessment, treasury, management and budget, accounting, purchasing, and revenue. Among its scope of duties, the department prepares and administers the county’s operating and capital budgets and Comprehensive Annual Financial Report; reviews, assesses, bills and collects taxes, licenses, and fees; assesses real estate and certain personal property, and purchases goods and services for general government departments and Henrico Schools.

Coates also will serve as commissioner of revenue and treasurer for the county, as prescribed by the Code of Virginia.

Prior to coming to Henrico, Coates held several positions with Chesterfield County, including budget analyst, budget manager and director of budget and management. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Roanoke College and a Master of Science from Virginia Commonwealth University. Coates is the mother of two daughters.

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Downtown

Daily Planet pleads with community for water donations for homeless during heatwave

The nonprofit needs supplies to distribute to the homeless population during the hottest time of year.

RVAHub Staff

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With Richmond already experiencing its first significant heatwave of the summer, and with more expected in August, Daily Planet Health Services (DPHS) is asking those that are able to, to donate bottled water and pre-packaged, single-serve snacks to the nonprofit. The supplies will be distributed directly to the homeless living around Richmond, helping to ensure this population has the necessary resources to stay hydrated and nourished during the hottest part of the summer.

This week (July 27-31), a DPHS employee will be set up to receive donations in the parking lot of the 517 W Grace St parking lot from 8:30 a.m.-noon. If someone would like to donate water or snacks outside of that timeframe, they can call the nonprofit at 804-783-2505 x 230 to set up a donation.

74 percent of DPHS’ patients are at or below the poverty level, and as the Healthcare for the Homeless Grantee, the nonprofit serves the region’s homeless. Typically, summer and winter months are the most difficult for these populations, but given the circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, they now have even fewer resources available to them.

“With so many of the traditional places that our homeless population utilizes to cool off and hydrate during the hot summer months – like libraries, restaurants and community centers – either closed or drastically limiting capacity, many are left without an avenue to escape the heat,” said Taylor Garrett, outreach coordinator at Daily Planet Health Services. “We’ve unfortunately already seen firsthand this summer the dire impact the heat can have on the homeless population, and we’re hopeful that the Richmond community can come together to help us get nourishment to those that need it most.”

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Downtown

City to extend cooling station hours until 8:00 pm during heat advisory

In light of the recent extreme temperatures in the area, the Stoney administration is extending cooling station hours from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. to 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. while a heat advisory is in effect in the City of Richmond.

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In light of the recent extreme temperatures in the area, the Stoney administration is extending cooling station hours from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. to 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. while a heat advisory is in effect in the City of Richmond.

When the cooling station is open, but a heat advisory is not in effect, visitors will be welcome from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“This is a change rooted in compassion and common sense,” said Mayor Stoney. “I know how hot this city can get during the summer. Nobody should risk heatstroke because they are experiencing homelessness or lack access to adequate air conditioning.”

“It’s the city’s job to step in, reach out a helping hand, and prioritize public health.”

During the extent of the governor’s mask mandate, all residents who wish to use the cooling shelters must wear face coverings and practice social distancing where possible.

For more information regarding cooling assistance services, city residents should contact the city’s Department of Social Services Fuel Assistance Office at (804) 646-7046. Elderly residents with cooling related issues should contact Adult Services at (804) 646-7367. In the event of a heat-related emergency, please call 9-1-1.

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