WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (WAVY) – 10 On Your Side has learned more about who could move into a group home set to open soon in Williamsburg.
WAVY News reported Monday that many in the Yorkshire and Woods neighborhoods off Jamestown Road are opposed to the home, citing safety concerns. They told 10 On Your Side they feared that the people moving into the home would be criminals. A homeowner’s association president said the proximity of several schools heightened the concerns.
On Thursday, WAVY’s Deanna LeBlanc spoke with Lynda Hyatt, executive director of Gateway Homes, the non-profit that will operate out of the house. She explained that there is a possibility some of the eight residents could have been involved in a crime, but says they have a rigorous screening process and no sex offenders will be allowed in.
Hyatt explained that three staff members will be in the home at all times. She says the individuals who will be moving in will have been treated at Eastern State Hospital and are ready for release, but have no home to go to. Some of the candidates for admission to the group home will have been civilly committed. Hyatt explained that means the person opted to check him or herself into the hospital for treatment with a mental illness, such as depression. That person has since been deemed well enough to be discharged.
Hyatt said other candidates could have committed a crime and were found not guilty by reason of insanity. They then received treatment at Eastern State, and a clinical team has deemed them ready for release. A judge would also have to sign off on releasing any person who is considered ‘justice involved.’
Hyatt wrote in an email:
The individuals who are being considered are referred by their local Community Services Board within Health Planning Region V. That HPR V consists of 9 different CSBs, These individuals are already in the community on a daily basis work, going to school, going to programs, shopping, movies, etc.”
HPR V — or Health Care Planning Region Five — includes the Colonial, Chesapeake, Eastern Shore, Hampton-Newport News, Portsmouth, Norfolk, Virginia Beach and Middle Peninsula and Western Tidewater Community Service Boards.
Hyatt went on to say:
Gateway screens for aggressive behavior. We do not accept individuals who are sex offenders or who have committed sexual offenses.
If a person was found Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity and is being released from the hospital the Judge in the jurisdiction where he/she was found NGRI must approve the release after the release has been recommended by the CSB to the judge.”
Residents in the area also raised questions about why their specific neighborhood was chosen. Hyatt explained that when the state Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services began the request for proposal phase at the end of 2015, Gateway Homes was awarded the bid. Gateway then worked with a realtor to find a location that met several standards set by the state. Hyatt said she did not specify Williamsburg as the desired location, but that she was required to find a home that is within HPR V and that due to commuting needs of her staff, did ask the realtor not to look east of the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel.