NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — The former Greyhound bus station on Brambleton Avenue in downtown Norfolk has been converted into a temporary shelter for homeless adults.
The city opened the converted property on May 1 to help people who are not in a traditional shelter and need a place to stay overnight during the summer months, per Sarah Paige Fuller with the Norfolk Community Services Board. Pastor Jim Wood and First Presbyterian Church hosted the Norfolk Emergency Shelter Team (NEST) Winter Shelter program at the location through April 30.
Fuller says the Salvation Army and Union Mission have shelters open and this is another for those in need.
“Even with those two amazing organizations during the job they’re doing, we have had a significant number of folks living on the streets during the summer. We wanted to make sure they could stay COVID safe during the summer, have privacy, dignity, and services to help them move in the next step,” she said.
The shelter’s expected to be in place through October, and currently has 55 outdoor tents and bathrooms indoors.
The city says it’s working to improve the shelter with air conditioning and doors, walls and a roof for outdoor units, expanded sleeping areas and onsite laundry. When renovations are completed the shelter will be able to host up to 80 people.
It also has security 24/7 and other services such as case management are provided.
Fuller says when the COVID-19 took hold locally, the city looked at critical points where people would be the most vulnerable and found those living on the street were in that category.
The city had a goal of getting a permanent location up by the end of 2021.
Fuller says they’re not just providing shelter, but other services to help.
“Everyone that comes here who meets with a caseworker. They’ll have their continual … housing assessment. That puts them on the path of being assessed to get them into housing or take that next step,” she said.
She hopes that this will be a new beginning for many.
“If we were just providing shelter but not providing services, we would be maintaining homelessness. We are contributing to the problem. By providing those extra services, we are helping each person make the next step and be reliable to continue on their own journey. That’s what makes a difference. We’re not continuing their homelessness. We’re actually helping end their homelessness. By being in one spot, it helps keep them organized,” Fuller said.
In the meantime, the city is searching for a permanent location year-round. If you’re interested in volunteering or donating clothing or snacks, you can contact Pastor Jim Wood at email@example.com.
You might remember that in 2018, Norfolk approved an agreement with Tidewater Community College to turn the station into a new center for visual and culinary arts, but the project fell through after a major donor withdrew their pledge, the Virginian-Pilot reported.