Supporting Our Unhoused Neighbors this Winter
By Diana Wear and Daniel Barth
Streets Team leader Tshombe Perkins, with Buddy Bennett, Cyntha Simpson, and Deborah Young cleaning along S Collins in Parchester Village, by Maurice Tierney
Our unhoused neighbors don’t have sturdy structures to protect them from the elements and the colder-than-usual climate has been hard. The city and its local organizations are pressed to address this crisis. In our county, 2 of 5 unhoused people are Black/African American, four times the county’s black population. In Richmond, African Americans are 54% of the homeless population.
We wrote about our support for Safe Organized Spaces Richmond (SOS) in an earlier issue of The Activist. At that time, we encouraged people to donate to the organization. RPA members contributed $1,100 last year.
Donations provide for SOS to purchase used items that it can’t otherwise buy – survival gear for encampment residents, equipment for SOS operations. You may have tents, blankets, towels, hoodies and the like. You can start a collection drive at a school, house of worship, or business.
Who would you be helping? Women, seniors, disabled, chronically homeless, mostly black –living right at our public sidewalks.
On a systems level, responding to homelessness involves helping each neighborhood to decide that it can allow for emergency housing to be established in a parking lot, a small vacant lot, or a larger parcel in an adjacent non-residential area. These will pave pathways to housing.
You can be the local change agents. A heartfelt thanks to all who generously supported our unhoused neighbors in 2021. Let’s do even more this year. Call or email: 510-990-2686; [email protected]. Venmo at SOS_Richmond.