Virginia Supportive Housing
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VSH Monthly Newsletter
April 2014


Virginia Supportive Housing ENDS homelessness, one person at a time, by providing permanent housing and supportive services. Thanks to your support, we can continue to improve the lives of the people we serve and transform communities with our proven solutions to homelessness!
April Story of Hope
VSH's Homelink program was established at the end of 2011 to provide permanent housing and intensive supportive services for Richmond's most vulnerable and chronically homeless individuals. Since that time, the program has more than doubled and now serves more than 60 individuals with the most serious and life-threatening medical conditions including end-stage liver failure, COPD, emphysema, HIV/AIDS, and critical cardiovascular conditions. Many of the individuals served through this program struggle with multiple chronic conditions and at least five individuals have passed away within the past year. Recently, the Homelink staff successfully housed a couple that had been homeless for nearly 40 years. This month's Story of Hope features that couple, Michael and Kay, and their story of enduring love. 
Homeless for many years at the time of their first meeting, Michael and Kay felt blessed when they found each other 18 years ago. Kay, who is cognitively impaired, had lost her housing when her grandmother (who raised her) suddenly passed away. Micheal, who is also intellectually challenged, was suddenly forced onto the streets when his mother (who had cared for him his whole life) also passed away. With no one to care for either of them, they both faced the grim reality of being homeless, vulnerable, and alone.
In 1996, the couple met and embarked upon their journey of love and survival. That year, they moved under the Mayo Bridge in downtown Richmond and created their home, a home that in many ways was much like any other. There was a sleeping area (enclosed under a tent), a living area with couches, and a kitchen area complete with a wood-burning stove and spice racks. According to Kay, she and Michael were brought together for the special purpose of providing help to others and sharing what little they had to "pay it forward." They opened their "home" to other individuals who were homeless and generously offered food, protection from the elements, guidance, and a sense of community.
Over the years, many people have approached Michael and Kay with offers of housing. In early 2014, Kay required heart surgery and received several such offers upon discharge from the hospital. But the offers excluded Michael, who would have had to remain on the streets, and Kay couldn't bring herself to accept them. Each time she returned to Michael and their home under the Mayo Bridge. Michael's love for Kay is equally obvious. With gentle care and attention, he helps her out of chairs and into vehicles, and he walks patiently alongside as she uses her walker. Their devotion to one another is endlessly reciprocated.
 A few years ago, VSH staff began engaging Michael and Kay with the hope that they would accept housing. The couple was skeptical and resistant to all efforts, fearing that they would be separated. However, fate intervened on April 2, 2014.
That day, breaking news reports started scrolling across television screens throughout the city showing images of a large fire near the Mayo Bridge. Clouds of thick black smoke could be seen as far away as Henrico County. Later that day, Kay and Michael, who were not in their encampment at the time, found out that something had sparked the blaze in their home, possibly a discarded cigarette flicked over the bridge from a passing car. When they arrived back at the site hours later, they discovered that everything they had built over the previous 18 years had been reduced to ash.
VSH outreach staff immediately tracked down the couple, who had temporarily relocated to a hotel, in the hopes that the tragic circumstances would cause them to reconsider the offer of housing. They did! Almost simultaneously, an apartment with a view of the river - the very same river they had lived next to for the last 18 years - became available through one of VSH's landlord partners! Two weeks ago, Michael and Kay moved into their new home. Watching them receive their keys and unlock their door for the very first time was an amazing experience.  
 Michael and Kay are survivors. Kay tells VSH Homelink staff that she knew she would be provided for, as long as she lived faithfully and gave what little she had to others. She believes they have been taken care of because of the good that they put into the world. Now that Michael and Kay are safely housed, VSH continues to provide critical supportive services which include assistance with medical follow-up, medication management, housing assistance, and connections to other community resources so that they can remain permanently stabilized.
VSH is proud to have played a part in this beautiful love story with a beautiful ending - the end of homelessness!      
In This Issue
April Story of Hope
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 Virginia Supportive
 Housing is
501(c)3 nonprofit that 
improves lives & transforms communities by providing proven permanent solutions
to homelessness. 

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Contact Information
Allison Bogdanovic, Executive Director 
Virginia Supportive Housing