FAQ

Homeward


If you have a question that is not answered below, please reach out to Homeward during normal business hours. 

 

How Homeward Works

What is Homeward?

What does Homeward do?

  • Homeward exists because the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) requires all localities, including the Richmond region, to have an organization that coordinates and tracks homeless services in order to receive public funding.
  • Homeward was established in 1998 so our region would qualify for HUD funding. We support the work of nonprofits and local governments addressing homelessness in Greater Richmond.
  • Homeward is an active participant in the national network of partners to reduce homelessness and considered a model by other communities.
  • Homeward helps local homeless service providers in the Richmond region better plan and collaborate.
  • Think of Homeward as an air traffic control tower that monitors progress, ensures our partners have the support they need, advocates for homeless service policies, and plans for future needs.
  • Homeward also collects all HUD required information and analyzes that data to report results, share best practices, and make it possible for our partners to focus on providing services that have a bigger impact.

Why does Homeward run shelters now?

  • Homeward organized and manages the Pandemic Shelter (officially known as the Non-Congregate Shelter for Individuals and Families) and the Safety Net Shelter due to the unprecedented nature of the pandemic and economic crisis that began in 2020.
  • Homeward launched the Pandemic Shelter in March 2020 to provide safe indoor accommodations for individuals experiencing homelessness who are at risk from COVID-19. Homeward recognized the need for this shelter and stepped in to manage it and secure public and private funding.
  • Homeward launched the Safety Net Shelter in October 2020. This shelter was funded by federal pandemic relief money that had to be spent at the time. Given Homeward’s lessons from and experience with the Pandemic Shelter, it was best positioned to manage this shelter. Currently, Homeward only plans to manage the Safety Net Shelter for this winter.  

What is the Greater Richmond Continuum of Care and is it a part of Homeward?

Where does Homeward get its information?

  • The Greater Richmond Continuum of Care (GRCoC) is not a part of Homeward and not a distinct entity or nonprofit organization.
  • It is a collective effort among homeless service providers in Greater Richmond to coordinate their work. Homeward provides support to nonprofits and public sector agencies that participate in the GRCoC.
  • Homeward and all GRCoC partner agencies prioritize the dignity and autonomy of every person, including those experiencing homelessness. If someone declines assistance, we respect their wishes but will continue to follow up with them so they know resources are available. We never stop offering help.
  • For more than two decades, Homeward has studied homelessness by engaging in conversations with people living outdoors or in shelters to better understand programs and solutions for those experiencing homelessness.
  • Homeward uses both qualitative and quantitative research that includes extensive interviews with individuals experiencing homelessness to learn about their needs.
  • Homeward has a lengthy and proven track record of sharing accurate and verifiable data on what works and best practices to serve our most vulnerable neighbors.

                                            

Why did I see or read that Homeward is kicking people out of shelters and not helping people in need?

What information do you share about shelter residents?

  • Homeward and its partner agencies have been subject to a coordinated disinformation campaign that has misled many people about how homeless services are provided and how many individuals are served.
  • The misleading information hurts those who are experiencing homelessness by sowing confusion and making it more difficult to access services they need.
  • Homeward and our shelter partners follow strict confidentiality agreements to respect the privacy of program participants.
  • Homeward does not share confidential or personal information.

What can I do if I want to help?

What should I do if I need help?

  • For a list of resources and ways to help, visit homewardva.org/get-involved/what-you-can-do
  • To make a financial donation, contact Faith Kallman (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)
  • To make in-kind donations, contact Frances-Marie Pugh (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)
  • To find volunteer opportunities, visit HandsOn Greater Richmond (www.handsonrva.org)
  • If you are currently homeless or within 3 days of losing your current housing, contact the Homeless Crisis Line at 804-972-0813.
  • If you need rental assistance, please visit https://www.dhcd.virginia.gov/rmrp.
  • If you need rental/mortgage support to stay in your current housing, contact the Housing Resource Line at 804-422-5061.
  • For other resources, visit www.homewardva.org/help.  

Why do I still see people experiencing homelessness on the street?

How many people has Homeward helped?

  • If you see someone on the street, that doesn't mean they haven't been offered help. Homelessness is a complex issue and it's crucial that we respect the dignity, voice, and choice of all individuals. Sometimes individuals decline assistance, but our systrem continues to reach out to offer support and resources. We are committed to serving our neighbors experiencing homelessness and never stop asking if they want help.
  • As a community, we must continue to provide support for all our neighbors, which includes both offering homeless services and working to address the larger systems and structures that result in individuals experiencing homelessness.
  • In 2020, Homeward and GRCoC partner agencies helped 4,500 households who were homeless or within 3 days of losing their home via the Homeless Crisis Line (HCL).
  • The HCL received more than 52,000 calls in 2020 and assisted those callers with referrals to community programs to meet their needs.
  • Despite these results, there are not enough resources dedicated to homeless services to meet the need in our community.

 

Homeless Crisis Line (HCL)

 

What is the Homeless Crisis Line?

  • The Homeless Crisis Line offers trained Diversion Specialists who can assist households within 3 days of losing their housing to problem-solve, connect to community resources, and connect to homeless assistance if needed.
  • It operates Monday – Friday from 8am – 9pm and Saturdays and Sundays from 1pm – 9pm.
  • If you don’t speak with a Diversion Specialist when you call, please leave a voicemail message. Most calls are answered or returned on the day of their call and all messages are returned within 1 business day.

Who should call it?

Will I talk to a real person if I call?

  • Only call the Homeless Crisis Line if you are currently homeless or within 3 days of losing your current housing.
  • This guidance ensures that individuals who need help can get connected to it more quickly.
  • If someone is currently experiencing homelessness or within 3 days of losing their current housing and selects the appropriate option, they will be connected to a Diversion Specialist.
  • If they need to leave a voicemail, it will be responded to by a Diversion Specialist within one business day.

Why do I hear a recording when I call?

Does it operate 24 hours a day and 7 days a week?  

  • That recorded greeting is an important tool to identify those who are truly in crisis while diverting others to more appropriate resources.
  • The multiple options listed in the greeting ensure that individuals get connected to the best resource for their needs.
  • The Homeless Crisis Line is not designed to be 24/7 because our current system is not equipped to provide 24/7 services.
  • Other resources, such as the domestic violence helpline, provide a 24/7 hotline for households fleeing violence.

           

Financials and Spending

 

Where does Homeward get its money?

  • Homeward secures funding from a variety of sources, including private donors and public sources.
  • The majority of funding for homeless services in the Richmond region comes as a result of private fundraising from individuals, foundations, congregations, corporations, and other sources.
  • The single largest funder of homeless services is the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Special Needs Assistance Program.
  • Other public funders include the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development, the City of Richmond, Henrico County, and Chesterfield County.

How is Homeward transparent about its finances?  

How does Homeward fund the Pandemic Shelter and Safety Net Shelters?

  • Homeward is accountable to its funding sources through consistent financial reporting.
  • Homeward monitors all expenses and provides financial reports as agreed-upon and as requested by public funding agencies.
  • Homeward is audited annually and completes a separate federal audit of federal pandemic funds.
  • Both the Pandemic Shelter and Safety Net Shelter are temporary programs that are funded primarily with Congressionally-approved pandemic response funding provided by HUD.
  • Homeward applied for these federal funds with GRCoC partners and by working with local and state government agencies administering these funds.

Does Homeward follow financial reporting and nonprofit financial requirements?

  • Homeward follows all applicable financial procedures and complies with or exceeds federal, state, and local reporting requirements, including financial reviews and has submitted a federal audit.
  • Homeward has a strong governance policy and an active Board of Directors responsible for ensuring the organization follows all federal and state guidelines.

 

Pandemic Shelter

 

Does our community have a shelter for those experiencing homelessness during the pandemic?

  • The Pandemic Shelter (officially known as the Non-Congregate Shelter for Individuals and Families) is a temporary program that launched in March 2020 to provide safe indoor accommodations for individuals experiencing homelessness who are in the highest risk categories for adverse effects from COVID-19.
  • Participants in this program continue to be served with emergency shelter provided in hotel rooms. They also receive services to connect them to the next available resource to increase their stability or end their homelessness.

Where is the Pandemic Shelter?

How does someone access the Pandemic Shelter?

  • To respect the privacy and safety of shelter residents, Homeward does not disclose the location.
  • If you are currently homeless or within 3 days of losing your current housing, contact the Homeless Crisis Line at 804-972-0813.

What precautions are in place to protect residents?

When will this program end?

  • Homeward and our partners follow all federal, state, and local COVID-19 public health guidance.
  • Safety precautions include 24/7 staffing, PPE for shelter staff, meals delivered to residents, COVID-19 testing, and connections to case management.
  • Daily Planet Health Services provides COVID-19 testing and medical follow up.
  • The Pandemic Shelter is a temporary program.        
  • The Pandemic Shelter relies on federal COVID relief funds and will close when those funds are exhausted.
  • Homeward and its partners will work with all shelter residents to connect them to other shelters, permanent housing, or other resources in advance of the shelter closing.

Why is the Pandemic Shelter located in local hotels?

Why did you pay for meals when community groups can provide that?

  • Hotel rooms are needed to ensure proper guidelines are followed for those most at-risk to COVID-19.
  • There was an urgent need when the pandemic began. Acting quickly was crucial and hotels offered the fastest and best solution. Additionally, federal funds that pay for the Pandemic Shelter included requirements that made hotels an ideal option.
  • Using hotel rooms for pandemic shelters is a best practice and common solution used across the country.
  • Due to COVID-19 restrictions and public health guidelines, new procedures had to be put in place to provide meals for those staying in the Pandemic Shelter. These new requirements meant that community groups were unable to deliver meals during the pandemic.
  • These policies are in place to protect the health of shelter residents and community groups.

 

Safety Net Shelter

 

What’s the difference between the Safety Net Shelter and the Pandemic Shelter?

  • The Pandemic Shelter provides safe indoor accommodations to those most at risk from COVID-19 and has remained open since March 2020.
  • The Safety Net Shelter is an emergency program to provide a safe and warm place during the pandemic for those who have no other housing options when the temperature forecast indicates sustained overnight temperatures below 40 degrees.
  • The Safety Net Shelter closes and reopens when temperatures reach established thresholds.

Is there a cold weather or inclement weather shelter?

Is the Safety Net Shelter open 24 hours a day?

  • The Safety Net Shelter launched in October 2020 to provide a safe and warm place during the pandemic for those who have no other housing options.
  • The Safety Net Shelter also follows all federal, state, and local COVID-19 public health guidance.
  • The Safety Net Shelter is an emergency program and was not created to be open 24 hours.
  • The Safety Net Shelter intake hours are from 4pm – 9pm.

Where is the Safety Net Shelter?

How does someone access the Safety Net Shelter?

  • To respect the privacy and safety concerns for shelter residents, Homeward does not disclose the location.
  • If you are currently homeless or within 3 days of losing your current housing, contact the Homeless Crisis Line at 804-972-0813.

Why does it close?

  • Decisions to open and close the Safety Net Shelter are based on activation protocol developed by community members.
  • The shelter is activated when the temperature forecast indicates sustained overnight temperatures below 40 degrees.
  • This protocol is consistent with well-established guidelines for previous cold weather overflow shelters dating back to 2014.

 

What if someone does not have a phone but needs to access the Safety Net Shelter?

  • Connection points are available throughout the region with guaranteed access to a phone to contact the Homeless Crisis Line.
  • Connection point locations are located at designated community-based organizations.

 

What if I have questions or feedback about the Safety Net Shelter?

When will the Safety Net Shelter close?

  • For up-to-date information, call the Safety Net Shelter Information Line at 804-277-4423.
  • The Safety Net Shelter relies on public funding from the federal, state, and local governments. It will remain open as long as that funding continues.

 

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Homeward

Contact Us:

9211 Forest Hill Ave. Suite 200,
Richmond, VA 23235

Tel: (804) 343-2045
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