Williamsburg's Homeless & Indigent

P.O. Box 366, Lightfoot, VA 23090
Office: 757-561-3255
"Assisting people in re-gaining hope and a better way of life."

Saturday, August 09, 2003

Unfortunately, Virginia Gazette hasn't updated their webpage for today's paper or I would put the article in. Maybe later today. Also, I had given a quote about the Eastern State Hospital and homeless shelter; but it was not fully used. So I will put it in this blog.

"To be declined for the use of ESH's Building 27, as a homeless shelter is not a disappointment to me, nor any of our Board Members. It has at least created an awareness in Greater Williamsburg that there is a need within the regional areas and homelessness does exist. Although the churches, United Way, Salvation Army, Williamsburg's Homeless & Indigent and other members that make up the Taskforce for the Homeless have been actively reaching out to the homeless, now many in our community are more informed about the obstacles that face them each day and every night. My efforts, along with the Taskforce for the Homeless will not cease just because ESH will not be the site for a shelter. I am appreciative for Mr. Favret's consideration for the use of the building. We are researching other properties, other counties such as York County and other possibilities. For the past couple of weeks, I personally, have been working with a real estate agent for prospective properties within the 2 counties that would meet the requirements to build a shelter or motels within the area that are for sale. The activity for a potential shelter at ESH has also brought an increase of volunteers for the cause, open many doors and created a stronger force for the homeless. Together we will all continue to strive for the betterment of those whom have no place to rest their heads."

I know I have put this on recently, but I also wanted to make sure it is understood as the quote sent to the paper. Basically the only part that was used from the quote was "It has at least created an awareness in Greater Williamsburg that there is a need within the regional areas and homelessness does exist." and "looking for other land and motels to for sale." Also, the paper stated "I annoyed top county officials by bringing several formerly homeless into the meeting..." Again, untrue. I guess it is comparable to the new Comp. Plan (our building regulations, technically) where many recommendations have stated "define your terms." So it depends on what you call several. If you consider a husband/wife/daughter as one unit and a lady as several, then I guess the quote is correct. And if I annoyed the county officials then is it fair to say they did the same. When the meeting was set up, I was told it would be the main person from Zoning/Developing that we have been in contact with, the head of James City County Social Service, and our district Supervisor. I did say it would be myself and a couple of Board Members, which it was. But, in actuality, they brought 2 others into the meeting as well.

One of the factors in the meeting on Wed. that was brought up was "you need to make this an effort and work together with United Way, Salvation Army and other groups that help the homeless." Geeze how many more times do I have to say this. I even corrected them in the meeting that I do work with all agencies together that want a homeless shelter. But, anytime I mention it in a quote for the paper, it is left out. I guess people want to see me as a rebel, which is not true. I am a middle man to help make the connections for those needing help and places that offer help. This area can be confusing since it is made up of 2 counties and a city. If you don't know what area you are sleeping within, many times you get thrown into a loop amongst the government agencies established to help. Unlike United Way, Salvation Army and the local churches, that their concern is you need help within the Greater Williamsburg area. But, I also sit on the Board of the Taskforce For The Homeless, which is made up of concerned citizens, the CSB, Social Service, churches, United Way and Salavtion Army. Does this sound like I don't work with them? We, as a Taskforce, have come up with other ideas that we are investigating for a potential shelter as well. We have always stated this needs to be an interdenominational effort. Whether we get a shelter as a group or somebody gets one on their own is not the concern; the concern is getting a shelter.

The Social Service and officials claim there is only a handful of homeless so why not get a program that will help them, instead of a shelter. First what is wrong with this comment is that based on a town that is made up of 2 counties and a city, each area can pass it between the other as "it's not our problem. You live across the line of our county. So you must go to..." This to me and others who go for assistance is an easy way to 'pass the one with down luck.' And I must say, the city aspect has been better at actually trying to help those who come for aide. Secondly, they already have a program that is designed to help and Social Services even stated, "We are govern by Federal laws. They can not be bent." So why try to establish another program that will be governed by Federal Laws that the criteria is so structured, it keeps people from being helped. My point: why keep people stuck in a loop to where they walk out with no help, feel like dirt and still on the street?" But, they made it clear they do NOT want a shelter in their county. Many as I have said before have tried, all have failed. I don't consider this a failure, just a setback. Also, they forget come the end of this year, a couple of the weekly motels the working homeless live in are closing permanently. This creates almost 200 people, including children, on the streets, but I guess that extra strip mall is worth the price for a child to go without a place to live. Oh and even if they have a car, it is illegal to sleep in your car here.

Now we at least know, like always in the past, it will be up to God, not the government to succeed. Just as the government sat by while each year a local park was used to hold a national meeting of Witches; it took the churches and God to bring that to a stop. I guess the groups of Witches were paying visitors that brought income into this area, to help cover people's saleries.


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