Home Two-day summit to explore homelessness, housing challenges in SAW region

Two-day summit to explore homelessness, housing challenges in SAW region

Crystal Graham
Woman holding homeless god bless sign in front of van
Photo by Kate Simon for the Community Foundation’s interactive “This is Home” project. Image courtesy Chris Lassiter.

Four organizations will host a housing summit on Oct. 11 and 12 at the Holiday Inn in Staunton aimed at bringing together potential partners, both public and private, to explore housing challenges and solutions over a two-day period.

Augusta Health, Valley Community Services Board, the Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission and the Community Foundation of the Central Blue Ridge formed a working group in response to the pandemic and have continued their work together ever since.

“Housing affects all of us – every single one of us,” said Lydia Campbell, a community-based services manager at Valley Community Services Board who is the coordinator for the Valley Homeless Connection. “We all must come together to understand the spectrum of housing issues, from homelessness all the way to home ownership, and decide how each of us who live in the SAW area will care for our community and our neighbors.”

SAW is an abbreviation commonly used to stand for Staunton, Augusta County and Waynesboro.

The summit comes at a time when housing costs continue to rise, rental units are in demand and homelessness issues persist in the region.

“Housing is our single most expensive essential need, yet our community’s supply does not match the demand for safe, quality, attainable housing for everyone,” said Dan Layman, CEO of The Community Foundation of The Central Blue Ridge. “We all feel the consequences of this imbalance regardless of our own circumstances.”

The Community Foundation released an ambitious website project and photography exhibit titled “This is Home” by writer Chris Lassiter and photographer Kate Simon related to housing insecurity in 2022.

The housing summit will provide a combination of speakers on relevant topics, along with time for individuals and agencies to think collectively through possible solutions.

Presentation topics will include defining and unraveling common misconceptions around affordable housing; assessing our region’s housing landscape; the connections between housing, health and economic development; how to better promote the development of attainable housing stock; and funding solutions and success stories from around the state.

Krystal Moyers, the administrative director for community outreach and partnerships at Augusta Health, sees a correlation between housing insecurity and her work at the hospital.

“Without consistent shelter that is safe, accessible and free of pests and other pollutants, significant health conditions will occur,” Moyers said. “Augusta Health is committed to collaborating with community partners to determine sustainable housing solutions, and in turn improve the overall health of Staunton, Augusta County and Waynesboro.

“Our community is rich with nonprofits and other organizations who believe housing is a fundamental need and basic human right,” said Moyers.

For more information or to register for the summit, visit www.sawhousing.com

Homeless man leaning against car with belongings on ground
Photo by Kate Simon for the Community Foundation’s interactive “This is Home” project. Image courtesy Chris Lassiter.

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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.