Regional leaders joined HUD's Jemine Bryon (third from right) for a major grant funding announcement Monday morning.
The Richmond region is receiving an influx of federal funding to combat the issue of youth homelessness.
Jemine Bryon, acting general deputy assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), announced at an event Monday morning that the Greater Richmond Continuum of Care has been awarded a $4.47 million grant as part of HUD’s Youth Homeless Demonstration Program (YHDP).
“Congratulations, that is a lot of money. We know you will put it to great use,” Bryon said.
YHDP funding supports selected communities in the development and execution of a coordinated approach to prevent and end youth homelessness. To date, HUD has awarded a total of $368 million in grants to 94 communities across the United States.
Greater Richmond was one of 17 communities nationwide approved for funding in Round 6 of the program. The selected communities will share $84 million.
“This significant federal funding is a game-changer for our region,” said Kelly King Horne, executive director of Homeward, a nonprofit that serves as the planning and coordinating organization for homeless services in the greater Richmond area. “These resources will help our system expand its capacity to serve more youth. Importantly, youth voices and those with lived experience will inform our regional plan.”
Homeward submitted an application for YHDP funding in June, based on input from the Greater Richmond Continuum of Care’s Youth Action Board and its regional partners, which include the Social Services departments in the counties of Chesterfield, Henrico and Hanover and the city of Richmond.
Dr. James Worsley, one of Chesterfield’s deputy county administrators, serves on Homeward’s board of directors.
Meetings are being scheduled with King Horne and her staff to decide how the region can leverage the new HUD funding in advance of a teen submit that’s tentatively scheduled for March 2023.
As part of the YHDP funding, Homeward will coordinate a community-led planning process to identify the needs of youth experiencing homelessness in the Richmond region. Once such a plan is submitted to and approved by HUD, funding will be used to support programs that address youth needs.
“Children who have a backpack should have books in it. They should have school supplies in it. They should not be worried about their next meal. They should not have clothes in their backpack or other things to sustain them because of homelessness,” said Chris Winslow, chairman of the Chesterfield Board of Supervisors.
According to King Horne, the grant award is more than twice what Homeward staff were expecting to receive. Perhaps more importantly, the grant is renewable annually.
“That’s a big, big deal,” Winslow added. “It occurs to me that when you have homeless children, we often have homeless parents, so we have to think broadly about how we’re going to use these resources – not only this year, but also in the years to come.”
While Bryon noted YHDP has had “direct and measurable impacts on youth homelessness” in the communities that have been awarded thus far, about 93,000 unaccompanied youth accessed emergency shelters, safe haven or transitional housing programs nationwide during fiscal year 2020.
“We still have a lot of work to do in this country,” she said.
Additional information about the Greater Richmond Continuum of Care and community-based efforts to reduce homelessness is available at endhomelessnessrva.org.