Lynchburg event highlights services available to assist homeless

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LYNCHBURG, Va. (WDBJ7) Lynchburg is Melvin Martin's hometown, but he left about 10 years ago to teach English in Africa. While he was there, the economy collapsed and his job disappeared.

Melvin Martin shared his story of being homeless in Lynchburg during an event Thursday that featured Governor Terry McAuliffe.

"Students who once were able to pay me for my classes were no longer able to pay me," Martin said.

When he finally made it back to Lynchburg, he had no money and nowhere to call home. He and his family sought shelter at the Salvation Army.

"Week by week went by and, before you knew it, we were there for three months," Martin said.

Martin is an Army veteran and was able to get help through a military rapid re-housing program. His story was highlighted Thursday by Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe.

"Last year we found permenant housing for 2,773 vets in Virginia," McAuliffe told WDBJ7.

Virginia's military housing effort is one of many resources featured during Thursday's Central Virginia Continuum of Care Resource Fair at the Lynchburg Armory.

Sarah Quarantotto is the executive director of Miriam's House, a nonprofit that assists women and families who are dealing with homelessness.

"Every year we have about 750 people in the Lynchburg area who experience homelessness," Quarantotto told WDBJ7.

Martin was one of those people, but he has a home now and he wants others to know help is available.

"You definitely can find housing if you don't give up," Martin said. "If you can keep looking."