Funding needed for H.O.P.E. Village transitional housing program

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Over the last seven years, the Salvation Army’s H.O.P.E. Village has helped more than 130 women transition from homelessness, into the H.O.P.E. Village, and then into permanent housing. But federal funding is running dry, and they need help from the public.

H.O.P.E. Village looks like many other neighborhoods, except the residents only have six months to stay.

“When they come in and know that they don’t have a lot of time, it’s a lot of motivation to get what they can while they’re here,” said Mary Mann, Social Service Program Manager for Hampton Roads Salvation Army.

But the residents are not alone. The Salvation Army not only provides the buildings, they provide programs to give women the skills they need to live on their own. Mann said it could be anything from budgeting to changing light bulbs.

The program started in 2009 with a three-year $900,000 federal grant. It costs between $400,000 and $425,000 annually to run the H.O.P.E. Village.

In 2009, women and their children could stay for up to 24 months. But the government started changing the criteria for grants, and soon the H.O.P.E. village program was shortened to only six months. The Salvation Army isn’t willing to go any shorter than that.

“We could’ve chased the money, but we like our program the way it is, so we’ve stretched it out as long as we can. We feel like what we do works,” Mann said.

That’s why the Salvation Army is now turning to private foundations for grants and to the public for help. They’ve already received a more than $21,000 donation from Farm Fresh. Plus, they have a private donor willing to match donations up to $60,000.

They’re hoping they can raise enough to keep the doors open.

“The government is moving to rapid re-housing, if they’re housed they’re not homeless. And we’re saying they’re going to be homeless again if we don’t help them,” said Mann.

The Salvation Army says they’ve secured three empty lots in the neighborhood — and if they’re able to raise enough to meet their operating costs, they’re hoping to build more houses.