Richmond study finds more people homeless because of economy

By Rachel DePompa - bio | email

Posted by Colby Rogers

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A new study released this week finds that the number of people in Richmond experiencing homelessness rose 7 percent from 2008.

Homeward, an agency that helps coordinate services for the homeless, says that not only are more people living on the streets of Richmond, but that homeless shelters are also seeing a 10 percent increase in attendance.

The study found that many people in Richmond are experiencing homelessness for the first time. Many had a foreclosure or had filed bankruptcy. One in three had been laid off in the past year.

The research will be used to determine what programs are needed to help address the problem of homelessness in Richmond.

Donald Lee Griffin is currently living in a shelter, looking for work. One year ago, the 58-year-old says he lost his job and then his home to foreclosure.

Griffin says he never thought he'd become a statistic - one of more than 1,100 people homeless in greater Richmond.

"My job, my cars, my money - the whole nine," Griffin said. "You are one paycheck away from being homeless. Don't ever think it's not so."

Jennifer Hardy, a single mother, was a drug addict who decided to clean up her act.

She says she spent three months in a shelter and now has a three-bedroom apartment. Her new job is helping others get back on their feet.

"Every Thursday, I get to help a family get furniture into their apartment like I did not even have a month ago," Hardy said.

Donald Griffin also helps to deliver furniture to homes.

"Some of these homeless people individuals are the most dynamic people that you could ever meet," Griffin said. "But they just fell on hard times, and it can happen to anyone."

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