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Homeless services should be under one roof

8/16/2018, 6 a.m.
According to state statistics, there were 1,394 homeless students in Richmond Public Schools in 2016-17. Chesterfield County and Henrico County ...

According to state statistics, there were 1,394 homeless students in Richmond Public Schools in 2016-17. Chesterfield County and Henrico County had 715 and 986 homeless students, respectively.

One homeless individual is one too many.

The McKinney-Vento Act identifies students as homeless if they do not have shelter and also students who do not have a stable place to live, for example, moving from place to place.

We must do better than this. The act requires that support services be provided to homeless students, but our goal should be permanent housing for them and their families. 

All of the homeless service providers, our leaders and the community must come together to find a solution. We must search for models that work.

Kansas City reduced the number of homeless students by 25 percent by instituting “Impact Wednesday,” when all homeless service providers come together at a center each Wednesday to create a single stop for services. School district families are referred to the center for “wrap-around” services. Each family is guaranteed a case manager to assist them.

All of the homeless providers should be under one roof, even if it is just for one day out of the week. Parents must be helped with employment, housing, medical care, child care, educational classes, government benefits, nonprofit assistance, etc. The goal: Permanent housing for the family.

This is a crisis of morality. Our community is measured by how we treat the least of these — our brothers, our sisters and our children. 

TONNIE VILLINES

Henrico County