Ashland group helping families living in motels find homes

By Sunni Blevins - bio | email | facebook
Posted by Phil Riggan – email

HANOVER, VA (WWBT) - A new non-profit in Ashland is working to eliminate homelessness.  A number of families who've fallen on hard times are living in motels, and this group, called Ashland Supportive Housing, wants to help them find permanent homes.

Last year, the Ashland town council considered a proposal that would have stopped people from living in hotels or motels for any real length of time. Ultimately, town leaders decided they needed more time to think about that and do some more research, but it got some other people thinking about a different solution.

"There's so many families that are just living mouth to mouth, bundled up in a hotel, barely trying to make ends meet," said Lucinda Jones, found of Ashland Supportive Housing.

Jones is a freelance writer who's life changed last year when she was assigned to cover a proposed ordinance in Ashland that would have prevented people from staying in hotels for longer than three months in any six month period.  It was meant to stop people from treating hotels like apartments and cut down on crime.  Jones continued her coverage after the idea was tabled.

"I met and interviewed a lot of the families, and I wrote their story, but I followed those families around for about two or three months, and I kept a journal and with that journal, I decided there's got to be a way to help these people because they needed the help," she said.

Jones and several others decided to create Ashland Supportive Housing, a non-profit group that will help motel families transition into permanent homes.  Right now, the group is trying to secure funding through grants and hope a documentary will help raise awareness.

"It's very much an educational documentary," said James Murray, co-director of Ashland Supportive Housing. "It's something that's designed to open up your eyes to what's going on around you.  People are in some cases paying quite a bit more to live in a motel for a month than they would be to live in an apartment, but they just can't afford to make the transition for any number of reasons."

The entire documentary, which is about an hour long is expected to launch within the next couple of weeks, and leaders with Ashland Supportive Housing are hoping to show it at a number of venues around the area.

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