Home Page



Media Centers

Richmond IndyMedia Live! Every Tuesday, 12:30 - 1PM on 97.3 WRIR LP-FM, and streaming online from wrir.org!

News :: [none]

Times-Dispatch Proposes City Jail/Homeless Shelter Merger to Revitalize Downtown

Dragging Feet

An RTD Editorial on August 1, 2003

On the homeless question Richmond has dragged its feet for too long. On the Freedom House feeding programs the city has done nothing.

In a perfect world all homeless services - ranging from meals to shelter - would be consolidated. The optimum place would be at 17th and O Streets, across from the City Jail. Many times this location has been discussed by city leaders and social service providers; many times those leaders and those providers have rejected it.

Nearly three years ago Freedom House seriously considered moving its breakfast and dinner meals from the dilapidated 302 W. Canal Street site to VCU-owned property at 17th and O. Environmental issues and budget woes forced Freedom House to scrap the idea - which envisioned a future shelter at the location, too.

Then the homeless service provider attempted to move to St. James Street in north Jackson Ward. NIMBYists and two Councilmen - William Pantele and Mayor Rudy McCollum - led the opposition. Once again, Freedom House's plans were scuttled.

Two things: (1) The Canal Street site is - and has been for years - unsuitable. (2) Downtown revitalization and VCU's expansion will go nowhere as long as those visiting the area feel unsafe (rightly or wrongly) because of panhandling and "undesirables" wandering the streets.

For 10 years and $50,000, Freedom House has searched the city for a new home for its programs. Each time it has come up empty, as seeking such a large facility outside downtown has proved futile. And the City Council has provided little help. The Mayor says, "Freedom House renders a great service to this community. I would hate to see them without a home."

The city and Freedom House should reconsider the 17th and O site - and soon. It remains the most desirable and achieves the balance the Mayor seeks - both finding a place for the homeless and revitalizing downtown.

This site made manifest by dadaIMC software

[Valid RSS]