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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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Downtown

Library of Virginia bringing Dopesick author Beth Macy to Richmond for the Carole Weinstein Author Series

Beth Macy is a Virginia-based journalist, the author of Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company that Addicted America, and an executive producer and cowriter on Hulu’s Peabody Award–winning Dopesick series.

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The Library of Virginia continues its 2022 Carole Weinstein Author Series talks with New York Times best-selling author Beth Macy. Macy will discuss Raising Lazarus: Hope, Justice, and the Future of America’s Overdose Crisis, the much anticipated follow-up to her internationally acclaimed book and Amazon series Dopesick. Carole Weinstein Author Series talks are free and open to the public. Registration is required for in-person attendance. To register, click here.

The event takes place Tuesday, August 23rd from 6:00–7:30 p.m.at the Library of Virginia Lecture Hall. It will also be livestreamed.

Beth Macy is a Virginia-based journalist, the author of Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company that Addicted America, and an executive producer and cowriter on Hulu’s Peabody Award–winning Dopesick series.

For more than 25 years, Macy has been reporting on stories from the Blue Ridge mountains of Virginia—previously for the Roanoke Times and, more recently, in occasional essays for the New York Times. She has also written for magazines, radio, and online journals from locations ranging from a mobile home in Bassett, Virginia, to a crowded cholera ward in Limbe, Haiti.

Like the treatment innovators she profiles, Beth Macy meets the opioid crisis where it is—not where we think it should be or wish it was. Bearing witness with clear eyes, intrepid curiosity, and unfailing empathy, she brings us the crucial next installment in the story of the defining disaster of our era, one that touches every single one of us, whether directly or indirectly. A complex story of public health, big pharma, dark money, politics, race, and class that is by turns harrowing and heartening, infuriating and inspiring, Raising Lazarus is a must-read for all Americans.

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Business

Richmond Region Tourism partners with VisitAble to offer disability awareness education to local hospitality community

A new partnership between Richmond Region Tourism and VisitAble is working to make the region more inclusive for visitors of all abilities.

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A new partnership between Richmond Region Tourism and VisitAble is working to make the region more inclusive for visitors of all abilities.

The region’s tourism marketer recently engaged VisitAble to provide free disability inclusion and awareness education programs to local businesses and organizations.

A startup based in Central Virginia, VisitAble works to improve accessibility and disability inclusion by engaging businesses, governments, and educational institutions in its Advocate+ Certification program. The process includes training 80% of staff on disability etiquette and inclusion, an accessibility test for public-facing locations, a mystery guest experience from an individual with a disability for staff to put their training intro practice, a report with feedback and advice from VisitAble and the mystery guest(s), and a website listing on VisitAble’s database of accessibility information to alleviate the uncertainty that may prevent customers and visitors from visiting.

After completing the certification process, hospitality partners will receive an Advocate+ Certification sticker for their door or window, a digital badge for use on their website, and recognition on Richmond Region Tourism’s website to broadcast the partner’s efforts and to further alleviate any uncertainty that potential tourists with disabilities may have.

“Our Advocate+ certification indicates an organization is actively working towards disability inclusion,” said VisitAble founder Joe Jamison. “Increased training, awareness, and transparency from the certification process helps organizations create a better experience for everyone. We’re thrilled to partner with the Richmond Region Tourism team to make a great impact on disability inclusion not only for tourists of the greater Richmond area, but also the greater Richmond community.”

“As we welcome new and returning travelers to the region every day, we’re constantly thinking about ways to improve the visitor experience while enhancing the quality of life for residents,” said Jack Berry, president and CEO of Richmond Region Tourism. “We’re proud to offer these free education programs with VisitAble to hospitality partners to help improve accessibility and inclusion for everyone in the region.”

There are limited slots available for the initiative. Local hospitality-focused businesses and organizations interested in a free Advocate+ Certification from VisitAble can submit an application here.

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Government

UMFS opens new $11 million residential center to enhance youth behavioral, mental health treatment

After an investment of more than $11 million, a longstanding residential treatment program that delivers trauma-informed care to youth working to overcome emotional and behavioral challenges has created a new multipurpose treatment center focused on healing.

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After an investment of more than $11 million, a longstanding residential treatment program that delivers trauma-informed care to youth working to overcome emotional and behavioral challenges has created a new multipurpose treatment center focused on healing.

UMFS, a statewide nonprofit leader in child and family services, has officially unveiled the transformation of its Child & Family Healing Center (CFHC). The state-of-the-art center took a year to complete. Previously, youth enrolled in CFHC lived in five separate cottages, originally built in the 1950s.

The 33,600-square foot center includes five residential suites, each accessible by separate entrances. Designed intentionally to promote safety and complement program enhancements, CFHC’s five identical suites each have a common area, full kitchen, group therapy room, family room, meeting space, and 10 private bedrooms and bathrooms. The center, which includes office space for administration and staff, can accommodate 50 youth.

CFHC serves youth ages 11-17 who are experiencing mood and anxiety disorders, emotional, social, and behavioral challenges and other traumas. Therapists, mentors, teachers, psychiatrists, nurses and other staff support the youth who live on campus as they focus on healing and building life skills.

“The new Child & Family Healing Center continues our long tradition of excellence in providing effective, high-quality residential care for youth,” said UMFS President and CEO Nancy Toscano, Ph.D., LCSW. “We intentionally designed the space utilizing a trauma-informed approach to promote healing in a safe and affirming environment. The upgraded center will help create normalcy while respecting a child’s need for independence during treatment.”

The center is one of the state’s only youth residential treatment programs to employ a “hybrid” security model, where youth can move freely throughout each suite and have supervised access to school, green spaces, a gym and other recreation on UMFS’ 33-acre campus. For safety, the building is regularly secured from evening to morning, and staff can secure each suite on an as-needed basis.

The CFHC marks the completion of Phase 1 of UMFS’ Be a Champion capital campaign, which aims to transform the educational and residential resources on its Richmond campus. Hundreds of donors and partners have contributed to the effort so far.

Phase 2 of the campaign is underway and will include an addition to the nonprofit’s Charterhouse School, a specialized educational program for K-12 youth who have special needs. The planned addition will allow UMFS to enhance its student services and expand programs. Demolition for Phase 2 will begin soon, and UMFS expects to break ground on the school addition this spring.

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We need your help. RVAHub is a small, independent publication, and we depend on our readers to help us provide a vital community service. If you enjoy our content, would you consider a donation as small as $5? We would be immensely grateful! Interested in advertising your business, organization, or event? Get the details here.

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