The majority of the homeless population in Hampton and Newport News are from those cities and there are always more men than women, more black than white and more adults than children.
Common issues include alcoholism, substance abuse and mental illness, said Lynne Finding, executive director for LINK of Hampton Roads.
The Hampton Roads Ecumenical Lodgings and Provisions’ A Night’s Welcome and LINK’s PORT are homeless shelter programs where hundreds of local, interfaith churches serve as temporary shelters each week.
The nonprofits can’t always provide transportation to the churches, with some churches a mile away from the nearest bus stop.
A Night’s Welcome at Queen Street Baptist Church – Nov. 28
The shelter opens at 6 p.m. and members check-in while volunteers meet with new “shelterers” to access their needs. Each person gets a number, a bag for their personal items, which are stored and returned the following morning, a blanket, sheet and a mat. The men sleep separately from the women and families and get a warm meal and breakfast the following morning. The shelter doors close after 9 p.m.
People can stay for as little as one night or the entire program, said Matthew Stearn, executive director for HELP.
PORT at Peninsula Korean Baptist Church – Nov. 29
At the PORT shelter, a sheriff’s deputy is present with a metal detector and the shelter doors don’t close until the following morning. Those who come after meal time get sandwiches instead of a hot meal.
For Christmas, both shelters are open all day and provide a holiday dinner and gifts such as food gift cards, hygiene kits and warm clothing. In the meantime, HELP needs Clorox wipes, white drawstring trash bags and volunteers, LINK needs diapers and warm clothing such as coats, sweaters and boots. Both agencies need women’s and men’s underwear in all sizes.
The homeless day services center in Newport News opens Dec. 17, said Kim Lee, the city’s communication manager. Read more here.
- On Nov. 28 at 9 p.m., 40 people were at the Queens Street Baptist Church.
- On Nov. 29 at 10:30 p.m., 40 people were at the Peninsula Korean Baptist Church.