First-Ever to Second-Ever

Thursday, February 08, 2007

What do a former bottling plant and an abandoned skating rink have in common? Well, according to Virginia Supportive Housing, they can be easily adapted as permanent housing for homeless individuals

[Photo 1: Gosnold Apartments before]
Gosnold Apartments before

Joined by Congresswoman Thelma Drake, Congressman Bobby Scott, Norfolk Mayor Paul Fraim, Portsmouth Mayor, James W. Holley III and Virginia Beach Mayor Meyera Oberndorf, on Monday, January 16th, Virginia Supportive Housing cut the ribbon on Gosnold Apartments.

Located in a building that used to house a Nehi plant, it's been transformed with financial support from HUD, Enterprise Investment Corporation, the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development, Virginia Housing Development Authority, the Norfolk Foundation, the United Way of south Hampton Roads and the cities of Norfolk, Portsmouth and Virginia Beach into a 60-unit residence for homeless individuals.

According to The Virginian Pilot, the first 20 residents to move-in have spent combined 78 years living in shelters, under bridges or on the street. "This is really about them," said Virginia Supportive Housing's Alice Tousignant. "It's not about us."

[Photo 2: Finished Gosnold Apartments]
Finished Gosnold Apartments.

When fully-occupied by the end of March, the 32,525 square-foot Gosnold Apartments will be home to 42 residents from Norfolk, 12 from Virginia Beach and 6 from Portsmouth, reflecting the fact that Gosnold Apartments is the first permanent housing residence, adds The Pilot, "in the nation to be financed and supported by more than one city."

A second one will follow shortly. Indeed, the big news at the Gosnold opening was that Virginia Supportive Housing has a second residence in its sights - a skating rink that, when completed over the next three years, will provide another 60 apartments for homeless individuals.

The three cities have already said they'll help fund the second residence and, even better, the City of Chesapeake has said it plans to help, too. "We're looking forward to the next one," said CPD Richmond Director Ronnie Legette. "HUD is ready and committed to supporting this kind of effective regional partnership to help end chronic homelessness."

The two residences for the homeless are not the first time communities in the Hampton Roads area - Virginia's largest metropolitan area - have used HUD programs or resources to "go regional." In April 2004, 7 city governments and 6 housing authorities reached agreement on the nation's first regional Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing.

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