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."

Sunday, October 12, 2003

Submitted by Hadyn from W&M

Dispelling the Myth of Homelessness in Williamsburg

The closing of four hotels in the area will catapult homelessness to alarming heights in Williamsburg. The ambivalence of the community can be attributed to, besides the various economic reasons, the myth that Williamsburg does not have a homeless problem and the dismissal of college students’ ability to incite change.The myth continues because many students are uninformed about area homelessness. The key players in the fight for a shelter, such as Patti McKenzie, choose the “Last Word” section of the Virginia Gazette as their preferred medium. At the same time, within the permanent community is the fear that open homelessness discussion will tarnish Colonial Williamsburg’s image.

Area service groups, until last year, did a great job raising money to put homeless people in hotels over the winter. But the call for student housing has proven more lucrative for owners who plan to turn the buildings into low-cost, privately-owned student apartments. Students too suffer from a myth created for us by the rest of Williamsburg. We are seen as transient members of the city, exploiting the resources, and not being aware citizens. We need to prove that William & Mary’s most important function is as a resource. Instigating change is the arena in which students excel because of our numbers, access to school property, and initiative.

Just last Saturday, various volunteer groups from William and Mary helped paint a building in York county which might become the area’s first emergency shelter. Events like the upcoming National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness week are opportunities for students to generate press exposure and community solidarity. As a major force in Williamsburg, we can dispel the myth of the homeless by destroying our own myth at the same time.


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