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Official count shows ‘concerning’ increase in individuals experiencing homelessness

Crystal Graham
Lydia Campbell taken by Kate Simon for the Community Foundation
Submitted/Lydia Campbell, taken by Kate Simon for the Community Foundation

Valley Homeless Connection completed its 2024 Point in Time, or PIT, count of homeless individuals in the region, and it was a mixed bag, with some good news and some bad news.

The count showed 31 adults sleeping in places not meant for human habitation, or unsheltered homelessness, which is a decrease of four adults, or 11 percent, from the 2023 count, i.e. the good news, if you can slap the word “good” on the fact that anyone has to live like this.

The bad news: the count also showed 137 adults and children in emergency shelters in 2024; as opposed to 108 in 2023. This equals a 26.85 percent increase for sheltered homelessness in one year.

The region encompasses Staunton, Waynesboro, Lexington, Augusta County, Highland County, Rockbridge County, Buena Vista and Bath County.

Lydia Campbell, a community-based services manager who also oversees the Homeless Helpline, said there are 29 individuals in 15 households on the shelter waitlist at this time.

“While it’s positive that the number of people experiencing unsheltered homelessness went down from 2023 to 2024, I don’t think the reduction is significant enough to say that we’re experiencing a downward trend in folks experiencing unsheltered homelessness,” said Campbell.

“What’s more concerning to me is the overall increase in individuals experiencing homelessness,” she said.

The Homeless Helpline is available at (540) 213-7347.

Homelessness: Breaking down the numbers

The demographics of those experiencing sheltered and unsheltered homelessness showed greater numbers of men who are White that are homeless.


  • Man or boy – 103
  • Woman or girl – 65


  • White – 124
  • Black/ African American/ African – 32
  • Hispanic/Latin(a)(e)(o) – 4
  • Black/ African American/African; White – 1
  • Black African American/ African; Hispanic/ Latin(a)(e)(o) – 1
  • American Indian, Alaska Native, or Indigenous; White – 1
  • American Indian, Alaska Native, or Indigenous; Black/African American/African – 1
  • American Indian, Alaska Native, or Indigenous; Multiracial and not Hispanic/Latin(a)(e)(o) – 1
  • American Indian, Alaska Native, or Indigenous – 2
  • Asian/Asian American; White – 1
  • Multiracial and Hispanic/Latin(a)(e)(o) – 1

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Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.