After four years of living in a motel with her son, Miss Gwen is now in a two-bedroom townhouse thanks to Chesterfield's permanent supportive housing program.
At times in Virginia, more than 200 patients in state mental hospitals are doing well enough to leave, but cannot as a result of the fact that neither a place to live nor support services are available. Supportive housing is a particularly acute need.
It is a national issue, too.
Nearly a million people with mental illness do not have a stable place to live, and programs to offer housing and supports have historically produced only 1,100 to 1,500 new units a year across the nation, the
American Psychiatric Association‘s Psychiatric Services journal reported last year. Having a secure place to live in a community with access to support services is an important part of recovery, the nonprofit group Mental Health America says.
The main problem has been funding, especially with record-high rents that are far beyond what people leaving state hospitals or who are homeless or couch-surfing can afford, mental health workers say.
In Virginia, getting to the 7,000 supportive housing units
Commissioner of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services Nelson Smith says are needed will likely cost about $120 million.
Last year, loans from the Virginia Housing Trust Fund — assigned two years ago to make supportive housing a priority as funding jumped from $7 million to $55 million last year and $75 million this year — generated 313 more supportive housing slots.
Department of Housing and Community Development tax credits helped fund an additional 627.
That got the state up to 1,700 units.
Funding for the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services for supportive housing programs has climbed over the past five years, from $10.5 million to $42.8 million this year and $50.6 million next year.
The state Senate is proposing an additional $50 million on top of that.
Meanwhile, the $93 million of state Affordable and Special Needs Housing loans announced by Gov. Glenn Youngkin this month included funds for 298 units designated for supportive housing among the 4,000 units to be financed.
“Helping people remain safe in stable housing is a key component in Virginia’s behavioral health strategy and we will continue to look for ways to support housing measures across the commonwealth,” Youngkin press secretary Macaulay Porter said.
Youngkin’s behavioral health package announced just before the General Assembly session adds more housing options for people with high-intensity needs so they can be safely discharged from public and private hospitals, she said.
31 photos from the Times-Dispatch archives
In September 1984, the Empire Theatre on Broad Street in downtown Richmond reopened with a gala and performance from the Richmond Symphony. Opened in 1911, the Empire closed and reopened many times since its founding. It is now known as the Sara Belle and Neil November Theatre and is home to the Virginia Rep.
In December 1951, Mrs. Herbert Flax showed her daughter, Susan April, how to light candles on the menorah in celebration of Hanukkah at Temple Beth Israel in Richmond. Flax was chairwoman of Women’s Club gift shop.
In June 1972, residents of a neighborhood in the town of Columbia, in Fluvanna County, stood at the end of a flooded street off state Route 6. The remnants of Hurricane Agnes brought some of the worst flooding in decades to many parts of the state, including Richmond.
In January 1954, Mrs. Elvira Daves (right), postmistress of Sabot in Goochland County, turned over the day’s mail to Mrs. Cy Williams. In the article that accompanied this photo, Daves said she and her husband planned to leave the village soon, and the Williams family would have to find new tenants for the post office and general store.
In January 1973, a young customer explored the offerings at the Carter’s Dry Goods and Notions store on Oregon Hill in Richmond. An accompanying article said the store’s biggest attraction was the penny candy counter — and some of the busiest times were after school, when children streamed in the after getting off the bus.
In September 1945, the sound of the bell summoned students to George Wythe School in Richmond on the first day of class.
In early December 1954, 3-year-old Joe Corman surveyed a row of Christmas trees at a lot off the Petersburg Pike. According to the accompanying caption, these trees were an early shipment from Northern states.
In March 1985, the Diamond was in the late stages of construction. The 12,500-seat baseball stadium on the Boulevard in Richmond was set to open a month later for the new season. Compared with Parker Field, the Diamond offered more seating, concessions, restrooms and boxes where guests could host parties while watching the game.
In May 1965, Lady Bird Johnson played tourist with a movie camera during a trip to Monticello near Charlottesville. The first lady was on a two-day tour of Virginia attractions, in part to promote the beautification of public places. Her trip began with the dedication of the first highway rest area in Virginia on Interstate 95 at Dumfries. After Monticello, she traveled to Abingdon and attended the Barter Theatre.
This December 1984 image shows the Bolling Haxall House on East Franklin Street at Third Street in downtown Richmond. The Italianate mansion, built in the 1850s by one of Richmond’s wealthiest residents, Bolling Walker Haxall, was sold in 1900 to the local Woman’s Club, which remains based there. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
In March 1964, two Chickahominy tribe members in Charles City County worked on a small farm. Leonard Adkins (left) also was a teacher, and Wilfred Holmes was a student. An article that accompanied this photo reviewed population trends among Virginia’s Indian tribes.
In December 1954, cars on the left side of East Franklin Street near Fifth Street in downtown Richmond weren’t parked — they were stacked up for more than three blocks waiting to turn on Seventh Street or get to a nearby parking garage on Grace Street. This scene was typical for a weekend shopping day during the holiday season.
In September 1948, Richmond men registered for the draft at Chandler Junior High School in Richmond. An accompanying article reported that 9.5 million men ages 18 to 25 were expected to register between mid-August and mid-September in Virginia.
In December 1974, young members of Temple B’nai Shalom lighted candles on the menorah in celebration of Hanukkah. The synagogue, which was on Three Chopt Road in Henrico County, later merged with Temple Beth-El in Richmond.
In December 1973, Hal Weafer stood with one of his Christmas trees - he had been cutting down the fir balsam trees at his property in Maine and delivering them to Richmonders for 50 years. Weafer was a former first baseman for the minor-league Richmond Colts who later became a baseball umpire.
This October 1957 image shows the High’s Ice Cream plant on West Broad Street in Richmond. Founded in Richmond by L.W. High, the company had numerous ice cream shops in Richmond, which were known for their black-and-white checkered floor tiles. The company’s opening-day special in 1932 was buy one Big Cone for 5 cents, get the second free.
In December 1982, a celebration of the seven-day Kwanzaa holiday began at Richmond’s Hippodrome Theater with a reading of the Nguzo Saba, the seven core principles, by Jamil Mulazim. Douglas Weffer (left) and Umar Kenyatta lighted symbolic candles. Kwanzaa, derived from the Swahili term for “first fruits,” was developed as an African-American celebration in the 1960s.
In January 1977, John Warner and Elizabeth Taylor ran through the snow with their dog Daisy. During Warner’s campaign for Senate in 1978, the couple resided in Richmond at the Berkshire Apartments on West Franklin Street. They were married in 1976 and divorced in 1982.
In May 1952, the Richmond Motel, located at Brook Road and Lombardy Street, was undergoing an expansion. The motel opened in February of that year with eight rooms and was adding 26 more.
In January 1973, John and Debbie Nelson were in their junior year at the Petersburg General Hospital School of Nursing. The two decided independently to become nurses, and their paths crossed in 1971 when they were students at Norfolk General Hospital. By October 1972, they were married and transferred to Petersburg General.
In October 1949, an organ grinder and his monkey entertained a young girl at the State Fair of Virginia, held at the Atlantic Rural Exposition fairgrounds. The fair’s array of exhibits and events included motorcycle races, driving safety instruction from the state police and displays of the latest household inventions.
In April 1960, more than 10,000 spectators attended the Richmond Virginians’ exhibition game against the New York Yankees at Parker Field in Richmond. The Vees, part of the International League, played in Richmond from 1954 to 1964 and were the AAA affiliate of the Yankees for much of that span.
In late January 1964, W.M. McDaniel shopped for a pipe at a store in downtown Richmond. An article that accompanied the photo said that for several weeks Richmonders had been favoring pipes over cigarettes in significantly larger numbers, based on tobacco sales. The hypothesis: The Surgeon General’s report that month linked smoking to lung cancer but said cigarettes were worse than pipe smoking.
In September 1976, more than 1,000 rafts, kayaks and canoes crowded into the Jordan Point Yacht Haven and Marina in Hopewell for the second Great James River Raft Race to benefit multiple sclerosis research and local MS projects. The race concluded across the river at Berkeley Plantation in Charles City County. Rafters were awarded prizes for speed, design originality and amount of money raised through pledges.
In December 1966, drivers in a toll lane at the Richmond-Petersburg Turnpike’s Falling Creek interchange were greeted by a cheery holiday message instead of the usual illuminated “go” sign.
In February 1949, W.A. Evans of the Richmond police dusted an empty ring box for fingerprints after a daring robbery of the Schwarzschild Jewelers on East Broad Street in downtown Richmond. The thieves took off with a haul of diamonds, other gems and watches — more than 1,000 pieces — with a value exceeding $200,000. Three men were caught and went to prison, though the search for most of the jewels continued long thereafter.
In March 1963, four men played pool at the Richmond Community Action Program Senior Center at Marshall Street and Brook Road. The center gave seniors access to financial counseling, education classes and other programs.
In March 1957, a boy and girl walked through Chesterfield County farmland with their tools, ready to help with planting. Blossoms on the nearby plum tree were signs of spring.
In February 1952, sexton James R. Eapes rang the bell at St. John’s Episcopal Church on Church Hill in Richmond while the Rev. Robert B. Echols stood by. The toll marked the passing of Britain’s King George VI, whose death that month at age 56 led to worldwide mourning.
In December 1963, workers in the Henrico Christmas Mother campaign sorted gifts of food and toys collected at county schools. The donations were then taken to the welfare department and distributed to needy families. The campaign also was nearing its cash contribution goal of $2,500.
On Christmas Eve 1973, 4-year-old Greg Murphey (front) and 6-year-old brother Scott slept by the fire at their Richmond home — hoping that Santa Claus would make some noise during his visit so that they could catch him at work, filling their stockings and leaving presents under the tree.