VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — More affordable housing is coming to Virginia Beach.
Executives at the Judeo-Christian Outreach Center are behind a new plan that will bring dozens of single bedroom units to its campus near the Oceanfront.
A lack of affordable housing in Virginia Beach is something JCOC executive director Todd Walker said he sees every day.
“We have 55 beds right now in our shelter. We’re at capacity pretty much every night,” Walker said. “I’ve been here 10 years I’ve never had a day where I was like, ‘Where are the homeless people?’ We’re always at capacity.”
His team is hoping to change that.
A big project is in the works. Walker said construction crews will tear down their old buildings at their Virginia Beach campus near the Oceanfront and build a new 38-unit affordable housing complex in its place.
“Rarely do you find somebody who operates a homeless shelter start to create affordable housing,” Walker said. “We see it on the front end, and we know how challenging it is trying to help our clients find housing in a very, very tight market. Sometimes when you see an issue, you got to be the one to step up and try to address the issue.”
Today Walker announced his team raised more than 80% of their $14 million funding goal to build the new homes.
The money comes from federal and local grants, and donations from the community – including $1 million from Virginia Beach resident Joan Brock and $2 million from Norfolk doctor Paul Chidester and his family.
“I can think of nothing more impactful than to make a significant financial gift to an organization that gives others a chance to thrive in the city,” Chidester said.
JCOC directors hope to break ground on the project early next year and get people moved in by the end of 2024 or the beginning of 2025.
“You can’t truly find who you are if you’re out on the streets trying to survive and dealing with trauma,” Walker said. “In order for the individual to really work on the issues that they may have, like substance abuse and mental health — two of the most common themes that you find in people experiencing homelessness — is to be able to put them in a safe environment first, then be able to provide them with those services to be able to address them.”
Walker said JCOC managers will work with Virginia Beach city leaders to identify who will move in, with a focus on the most vulnerable in the community.
These new single-person units are something Virginia Beach mayor Bobby Dyer said city leaders have built before, and go a long way in getting people housed.
“It’s a perfect bridge for people who were transitioning from homeless to meaningful employment to a good home. Believe me, we have been working on this for long time,” Dyer said.
“Every homeless person that is at the Oceanfront or anywhere in the city is a primary concern for us.”
Executives still need to raise about $3 million to meet their $14 million fundraising goal.