How the Metro Area Handles Homelessnes 

I wanted to commend you on printing this week's Back Page by Paul Hammond ("Feeding Frenzy," Dec. 12). I hope you will also pass my kudos on to the author.

As a social worker who has worked in several nonprofits serving homeless populations in Richmond, I have often been frustrated by the same issues Paul brings up regarding the way the metro area handles the homeless. I think his article was honest in a way most people are afraid to be.

I agree that massive feeding programs are not necessarily the best way to address the problem. I often try to bring up similar points when my well-meaning friends have guilt over giving (or not giving) to panhandlers, explaining that their money would be much better served through organizations.

Holly Gordon
Museum District

Over the course of a year, more than 5,000 men, women and children experience the crisis of homelessness in the Richmond region. Many more are at risk of losing their housing due to a financial or other crisis. Included in this number are approximately 800 children. This is particularly poignant, because national research studies have shown that children who experience homelessness are more likely to experience homelessness again as an adult.

Our community's understanding of homelessness has grown significantly over the last 10 years and the result is that our community is ready to make important changes.

On Jan. 17, Homeward will launch the Ten Year Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness in the Richmond Region. This plan brought together a wide variety of stakeholders from around the region and provides a unifying vision and some ambitious strategies to guide the next decade of our community's response to homelessness.

The goals of the 10-year plan include transforming the homeless services system to focus on housing stability, increasing access to stable or permanent housing, preventing individuals from falling into homelessness, educating and advocating for change, and providing research and data analysis on homelessness in our region.

Preventing and ending homelessness is possible. To learn more about the people who are experiencing homelessness in our region and what it takes to end homelessness, please visit our Web site (www.homewardva.org) or call 343-2045.

Kelly King Horne
Executive Director

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