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Men’s Shelter Locks in Location

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Convincing neighbors that a new rehabilitation center should be located on the South Side has been difficult but inspiring, Christin says.

“My initial contact was met with a very strong negative reaction, as you might imagine,” Christin says. But since Style first reported on The Healing Place in March 2003, efforts to win approval have paid off. The center gained support from the neighboring communities of Blackwell and Oak Grove, and from the civic and retail associations in the area. At its meeting Oct. 13, the City Council granted the center a special use permit.

Since the 1990s, some of the city’s most prominent officials and businessmen such as Jim Ukrop and Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine have visited the original Healing Place in Louisville and subsequently built support for the center in Richmond, Christin says. Earlier this spring, Ukrop told Style that he and others were impressed by the center’s 65 percent recovery rate and low cost — about $18 per person per day. The Louisville center also reportedly saves local government about $3 million annually in emergency room visits and jail costs, because it gives police an alternative place to take addicted homeless people they find on the streets. The center has been copied in five other large cities.

So far, The Healing Place slated for Richmond has raised $1.8 million in commitments, part of a $5 million capital campaign. Closing on the purchase of the building is set for Dec. 2.

“The program holds amazing promise to help a population that has been considered hopeless by society,” Christin says, adding: “In this age of [not in my backyard], this is nothing short of a miracle.” — Brandon Walters

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