Bracing for what’s next, Lynchburg organization prepares for potential homelessness surge

Published: Aug. 11, 2020 at 5:21 PM EDT
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LYNCHBURG, Va. (WDBJ) - Just days ago, Virginia’s Supreme Court agreed to a moratorium on eviction proceedings, to help prevent residential evictions resulting from financial hardships caused by COVID-19.

Despite a poverty rate of about 22 percent, according to Data USA, Lynchburg’s homeless population has dwindled. “What’s been interesting is, so far, we’ve seen a reduction in homelessness,” explained Kristen Nolen, the director of housing services at Miriam’s House.

Homelessness in the Hill City is down from 279 to 161 people over the last two years.

Nolan says the decrease is due to the eviction moratorium, as well as state and federal COVID-19 funding. But the looming COVID-19 crisis is what has Nolen holding her breath. “The pandemic has been, of course, devastating in so many ways, and we have been sort of bracing for that to create a domino effect in the house world as well,” Nolan explained. “Right Now, we’re just in this holding pattern, kind of bracing to see what’s going to happen.”

Nolan says, when relief funds dry up, homelessness will likely surge.

To prepare, Miriam’s house is sorting through different housing interventions. “We know that the answer to homelessness is housing, and so we’re continuing to look for ways to increase the resources we have as an agency to help people who fall into homelessness to become housed again,” Nolan explained.

If you encounter someone who is homeless, Nolan said to reach out to Miriam’s House for help. You can find more information by clicking here.

Copyright 2020 WDBJ. All rights reserved.

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