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Valley Shelters, Service Providers Team Up to Combat Homelessness

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Homeless people in the valley are getting the opportunity to have their own home Homeless people in the valley are getting the opportunity to have their own home
Shannon Rohr has her first home in six years Shannon Rohr has her first home in six years
Shannon Rohr Shannon Rohr
AUGUSTA COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) -

Shelters and service providers are working together to get people permanently off the streets.

In the last three months, they've found apartments for eight people.

Shannon Rohr now has her very own apartment.

“It's beautiful,” Rohr, who was once homeless, said. “It's wonderful. I can't imagine anything better than that.”

For the first time in six years, Rohr can say she has a permanent place to live.

During the winter months, she's found refuge in the Waynesboro Area Refuge Ministry (WARM) shelter. But besides that, she’s often lived like a nomad.

“In and out of places and stuff,” Rohr said. “And then I've done stayed on the streets and live in woods.”

Now, Rohr is benefiting from a new state-funded program.

“The Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services is interested in housing individuals with serious mental illness permanently,” Lydia Campbell, the adult mental health case manager coordinator for the Valley Community Services Board, said.

The Valley Community Services Board expects to find permanent housing for 30 people in need by July.

“They have no supports,” Campbell said. “No supports. That's why they're homeless. There's nothing. They don't have family to go to. They don't have family to go stay with.”

Debra Freeman-Belle, the executive director of the WARM shelter, says this program is a game-changer, which is largely the result of a renewed partnership between valley shelters and service providers working together.

“In generic terms, people would probably consider a homeless task force for a community,” Freeman-Belle said.

The planning group has been in play and working with the state since the early 1990s.

“It hasn't really progressed to meet the standards set by the Department of Housing and Urban Development,” Freeman-Belle said. “It has never really scored high or really focused on achieving and working towards eliminating homelessness.”

But with the Valley Community Services Board and WARM taking the lead, the process is getting sped up so that people like Rohr can have a safe place to sleep every night.

“I don't know how much I can say thank you to them to help me get my own place,” Rohr said.

The new program includes additional support to help people maintain their housing once they’ve acquired it.

The Valley Community Services Board continues to look for landlords willing to partner.

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