RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) — Brenda Hudson has had the same roof over her head for the last 25 years.
“I’ve never had a place to call home,” she said.
Before moving into New Clay House in Richmond’s Carver neighborhood, Hudson was homeless. She says a space of her own changed her life.
“[There’s] a big difference between sleeping on the street and sleeping in a bed.”
The Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development’s count in January 2016 identified 6,268 individuals experiencing homelessness in Virginia.
New Clay House on N. Harrison and W. Clay streets was Virginia Supportive Housing‘s (VSH) first community. It opened in 1992.
Since then, VSH has opened 16 additional properties across the state. They focus on affordable housing and on-site services for people who have experienced homelessness.
The original building will soon be renovated and expanded. Right now there are 47 apartments. After the $19 million project there will be 80.
Executive director Allison Bogdanović says stories like Hudson’s are why they do it.
“It’s proof that supportive housing works. It’s effective. We have a 97 percent success rate in our residents not returning to homelessness,” she said.
On Friday, VSH announced it received an anonymous $1 million donation. It’s the largest donation from an individual in the organization’s 29-year history.
“We were thrilled,” said Bogdanović.
She says it will help them reinvent the historic community.
Eighty-percent of that money will be used for the expansion and renovation efforts at New Clay House.
“The units are going to be much larger studio apartments, they’ll have full kitchens and baths, so no more sharing facilities, and they’ll all have brand new furniture,” said Bogdanović.
Sixty-seven of the units will go to formerly-homeless individuals and 13 will be reserved for people earning 50 percent or less of the area median income.
The rest of the donation will help provide direct services to the nearly 250 clients the agency currently works with in the Richmond area.
“Resources are too scarce. We need all partners, from local and state government to other non-profit organizations and also philanthropists like our million dollar donor,” she said.
Though the donor would like to remain anonymous, he did provide this statement to VSH:
In our philanthropy, we have focused on smaller ‘under the radar’ organizations serving, hands-on, the neediest elements of our society—organizations where our contribution can make a very meaningful difference. Virginia Supportive Housing is definitely our kind of organization. It does absolutely amazing work with a population that clearly meets our criteria. We are just glad we can assist them in having such a positive impact on the lives of so many people.”
Hudson says she is grateful others will get the same opportunity she’s had.
“On my behalf I’d like to thank whoever donated it,” said Hudson. “I mean, that was a surprise.”
Just last week, Virginia Supportive Housing was among more than a dozen housing organizations across the state to receive grants.