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Group Plans Search Party for Homeless



Scores of volunteers will be hitting the streets Aug. 1-5 to find the sickest, most vulnerable homeless people in Richmond.

Their goal? To quickly find homes and medical treatment for people most at-risk of dying on the street — a move that advocates say is much more compassionate and cost-effective than letting people cycle in and out of emergency rooms and jails.

“The goal is as soon as possible,” says Robin Gahan, program manager for the Virginia Coalition to End Homelessness.

The effort is part of 1,000 Homes for 1,000 Virginians, which is part of a national 100,000 Homes Campaign. Richmond is the first city in the state to participate, though several other municipalities have plans in the works.

Nearly half of Richmond’s homeless people report some sort of long-term disability. For some, their illnesses are dire. Gahan says that advocates will assess people according to various risk factors — a person who’s been homeless for more than six months and suffers from end-stage renal failure, for instance, gets a higher priority.

Virginia Supportive Housing has committed to housing some people in units that are expected to open up shortly after the registry week. Advocates from that agency and Homeward also will work with other groups, including Veteran Affairs and the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority, to help others.

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