Richmond homeless on crisis: ‘Mayor, come see your people’

Richmond homeless advocates says more and more people are showing up these days for food and other services.
Published: May. 19, 2023 at 12:53 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - In the parking lot of Saint Peter’s Pro-Cathedral, volunteers like Rhonda Sneed, are helping those down on their luck.

“They shouldn’t be out here on the streets,” said Rhonda Sneed, Blessing Warriors RVA Founder.

A hot meal, snacks, socks, and anything else that’s needed.

“Something has to be done. It’s critical now. It’s sad,” said Sneed.

This is where we met Horace Holland. He was one of 300 who went through the food line Thursday night.

Born in Richmond, the 66-year-old has had his fair share of hardships. Holland says more and more people are showing up these days for food and other services.

“The mayor needs to get from behind his desk and come out and see his people,” said Holland, who is living on Richmond streets.

Holland, like the many others we spoke with, say the same thing. The answer comes down to housing and stability, but finding an affordable place to live feels impossible.

“I get 980-some dollars a month. It should be a place where I can go and pay rent for maybe 600 or 700 dollars,” said Holland.

It’s the same issue for “Tee,” who didn’t want her face on camera. We respected that request.

We met her outside a hotel in Henrico where she’s been living for about a month now. But “Tee” and her five kids have been jumping from hotel room to hotel room since July 2020.

“Before Mrs. Rhonda, we was in the streets three days. Me and my kids slept outside and I still managed to get them to school. I can’t keep doing that with them. I can’t keep putting them through it,” said Tee.

Blessing Warriors RVA estimates about 100 area children are either on the streets or in a hotel.

Tee’s kids, between the ages of 11 to 14, are in Richmond Public Schools. She says the city’s homeless helpline, dedicated to connecting people with resources, is a scam.

“I don’t even know who more to call, who else to call. I’ve called everyone and it just seems like it’s falling on deaf ears,” said Tee.

But Tee has another problem because the clock is ticking and her money is running out.

“So once Monday comes at 11 a.m., if we don’t either have the money for this room or somewhere to go, we’re back outside,” said Tee.

Richmond City Hall has thrown more funding than ever before at the homeless situation for services and shelters.

UPDATE: The mayor’s spokesperson released the following statement in response to the story.

“Mayor Stoney’s FY24 budget is investing $1.8 million to support a year-round emergency shelter, in addition to the $4.5 million already appropriated. While this is just a temporary fix, his administration is dedicated to address homelessness at the root causes which means solving the affordable housing crisis as well, which is why the Mayor also invested $50 million for affordable housing over the next five years,” said Gianni Snidle, Mayor Levar Stoney’s spokesperson.