TJACH points to lack of affordable housing as a reason for increased homelessness

Published: May. 5, 2022 at 3:19 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - The number of people in need of emergency shelter has jumped in Charlottesville over the last year.

The Thomas Jefferson Area Coalition for the Homeless says issues related to the coronavirus pandemic are driving the numbers up.

TJACH and the Haven both say the only way to prevent and also to end homelessness is affordable housing, and the city just doesn’t have enough.

“Clearly, we need to change something about what we’re doing,” TJACH Executive Director Anthony Haro said. “What we need more is permanent supportive housing resources.”

They point to one night in January as an example: 228 people staying in emergency shelters, whereas a year ago it was 144.

“During the pandemic, housing prices went up,” Haro said. “That has put a big bottleneck in how our system usually flows or works to help people move out of homelessness and into housing.”

“We increased staffing in the day shelter, we’ve increased trained intake staff f our housing programs. So we have responded and prepared as much as we possibly can in crisis services,” Ocean Aiello with the Haven said.

Those crisis cervices include a housing resource center that works to move people out of the Haven and to homes.

“It’s really difficult, even when you have the staff and the money, frankly, to move people into housing and to effectively end their homelessness when you don’t have housing for them to move into,” Aiello said.

The Haven and TJACH say the lack of turnover in shelters and the increased need comes back to the lack of affordable housing.

“The edge gets more and more narrow when housing is more and more unaffordable in our community,” Aiello said “It really only takes like one tiny thing like losing a job or getting sick with COVID or having like a big medical bill for your child to lose housing and become homeless.”

“We need avenues for people to move off of the streets and into housing and that’s where it all comes down to at the end of the day,” Haro said.

If you are interested in donating to The Haven more information can be found here.

The Homeless Information Line is here: 434-207-2328.

RELATED: TJACH: People in emergency shelter in Charlottesville-area has risen

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