Rising housing prices, elevated unemployment rates, and an aging population are compounding the nation’s homelessness crisis. Here in Richmond, the January 2021 Point-in-Time count revealed that homelessness increased in the Richmond region by 50% this year. In June 2021, the median price of a home in the Richmond area was $310,000, a 44% increase from just five years earlier. Increasing home prices are pushing rental market prices up as well. Affordable housing is hard to find for even the most adept at navigating the system. It’s even more challenging for men and women facing medical issues and unemployment. CARITAS is here to help.
“My days are full. I spend every bit of my 8-hour days navigating this system for our participants,” says housing coordinator, Megan Corbitt. “We’re seeing an increase of elderly people and those who are medically vulnerable. I’ve also noticed an uptick in freshly new homeless folks.”
Since September 2020, Megan has helped 95 CARITAS participants settle into stable housing. She leverages years of professional expertise within the housing and homeless services sector in Virginia. Meeting with each person, she unfurls their rental history, matches them to community resources, and navigates the complicated housing application processes.
“My job is to connect the folks who are in our shelter to housing,” Megan says, “Housing looks different for each participant–nursing facilities, senior living communities, local private apartments, income-based housing, fixed income housing, and more.”
CARITAS is able to offer some limited financial support to help participants with rental application fees and to cover the first month’s rent. This helps men and women focus on finding medical services and securing employment. CARITAS is also able to leverage other community resources on behalf of participants including housing vouchers. This summer, Megan will be able to amplify this work as Kerry Cooke joins her as the Men’s Emergency Shelter Housing Coordinator.
“Looking forward, I’m watching out for eviction trends, and we’re already seeing COVID cases increasing again,” Megan says. “I want to be the best professional I can be for these men and women who need help. They deserve it.”