VIRGINIA BEACH — With the opening of the city’s new Housing Resource Center on Witchduck Road, the Lighthouse Center on 18th Street near the Oceanfront and the services provided there are no longer needed.
A closing ceremony will be held there Thursday (Sept. 6) at 10 a.m. and the public is invited to attend.
“The Lighthouse Center opened in 1997 in response to community interest in helping the homeless in Virginia Beach,” said Andrew Friedman, the director of Housing and Neighborhood Preservation.
From the start though it was only considered to be a “compromise” he said between the city and the groups interested in addressing homelessness.
Various nonprofits and religious organizations had usually worked with the homeless, with churches around the city often providing shelters and places for them to sleep – especially during the winter months.
The Lighthouse Center has only provided “day services,” such as showers, laundry, and connections to other services and resources, and has served as a gathering spot in the city’s Winter Shelter Program.
Friedman said a community task force was eventually formed and after some initial disagreements over a location for the shelter, the city built the structure on 18th Street with federal funding.
Over the years different nonprofits were contracted to run the center – with the most recent being Volunteers of America – but for the last two years the city has managed it.
Thursday’s ceremony will include remarks from various people who have been involved in the operation of the center and some who were advocates for the shelter.
Friedman said the ceremony will also include a final observance at the memorial located there, in remembrance of homeless people who have died in Virginia Beach. That memorial will eventually be relocated to the new Housing Resource Center.
Although not required, it will be helpful if those who want to attend register on Eventbrite.
Day services at the new Housing Resource Center are expected to begin around Sept. 17.
Friedman said he’s not aware of what future plans the city might have for the 18th street building.