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Donations sought to shelter homeless

Recently the topic of homelessness was raised at a Farmville Town Council meeting by Town Manager Scott Davis. Davis said that government workers who came to help Afghan refugees at Fort Pickett in Blackstone had taken up rooms normally used to temporarily shelter the homeless.

According to Shawn Rozier, the STEPS vice president of housing, “What happened factually is, we lost our ability to use four hotels in the area, and that caused us to have to look to hotels outside the region. So, we have a couple that we use right now, but we’re looking at strategies to keep as many of our people as we can here. We have two or three people in hotels outside the region right now.”

STEPS Inc. is a Farmville-based community action organization that helps with housing, education, workforce and economic development.

Area homelessness from July 1, 2020, to June 30, 2021, according to information from STEPS, was 86 households made up of 191 individuals. Homelessness in the area stems from multiple circumstances, Rozier said.

“I think the economy has been impacted with the shutdowns in the service industry — our clients are involved in the service industry — and there are a variety of other struggles that the homeless experience. They can be elderly, disabled, they can have mental health issues that they’re grappling with or physical health issues that prevent them from working like they need to in order to sustain themselves. It kind of runs the gamut. Anecdotally, we see all varieties of situations,” he said.

The money to put homeless people temporarily in hotel rooms comes from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development grants, STEPS Vice President of Workforce Development Christin Jackson said.

However, those funds are for hotel rooms only and do not include food, clothing, toiletries or other incidentals.

The public can help the homeless through donations to STEPS Inc. The organization will be hosting a fundraiser golf tournament in October, but you do not need to wait to donate. Texting STEPS to 269-89 will take you to their donations link. Checks can be made out to STEPS Inc., 225 Industrial Park Road, Farmville, VA 23901.