HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - Housing Families First, a homeless shelter for families and children in Henrico, is in danger of closing its doors by the end of the month.
Beth Vann-Turnbull, the shelter's executive director, says the shelter needs to raise $50,000 almost immediately, or it will shut down for three months.
Vann-Turnbull says families with no where to turn find refuge at the shelter on Nine Mile Road. The shelter can accommodate up to 30 people at a time and rooms are almost always full. Caseworkers say a mother once arrived straight from the hospital with a newborn baby.
Housing Families First helps homeless families find permanent housing within a month. However, if the shelter is forced to close, even temporarily, dozens of families will have to leave or won't be able to be taken in. Caseworkers say this would be devastating for those depending on the shelter for survival.
Vann-Turnbull says the nonprofit organization is transitioning in the type of government funding it receives. That switch in gr ant money has led to a three-month funding gap. Even though organizers say they've made cuts well in advance, and continue to fund raise, they're still short.
Single mother Laterria James says Housing Families First rescued her and her five children. James says she fell on hard times after her grandmother died and her mother was diagnosed with cancer.
Despite still working, she and her children became homeless. They constantly moved between different friends' homes. Eventually, James says she and her children were forced to sleep in the car. James says Housing Families First got her family off the street, into warm beds, and into a home within a month.
"I have a beautiful home, a 1,600 square feet home. I never even thought I could have anything like that. I just can't thank them enough," said James through tears. "People like me who hit hardships and don't have support systems … to be able to get that love from people you don't even know... It's like everything to me."
Vann-Turnbull says the shelter doesn't qualify for any more loans from the bank. She and other organizers and case workers continue to fund raise and ask for donations privately.
For more information about the shelter, visit www.housingfamiliesfirst.org
On 12News at 5 and 6, Kelly Avellino has more from the shelter's director about the impact on families who need the shelter.
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