Lynchburg reaches “functional zero” level of homeless veterans

Local News

LYNCHBURG, Va. (WFXR) — The City of Lynchburg hit a major milestone. Lynchburg and the surrounding four counties have achieved what’s called “functional zero” veteran homelessness.

That means the Central Virginia Continuum of Care has met a set of criteria by the nonprofit Community Solutions, including having fewer veterans experiencing homelessness than the number that can be routinely housed within a month.

Central Virginia is only the 12th community in the country to meet this criteria.

It’s significant for people like Adam Holmes, who made good money in IT and served in the army from 2003 to 2006.

“My story is a fall from grace,” Holmes said. He said things fell apart when a relationship ended. “I started drinking heavy and I got caught up in drugs. I distanced myself from my family and my friends. I lost a lot of friends, ended up in jail, and lost everything I had.”

His struggle continued after his release.

“When I got out of jail, I was sleeping on a buddy’s couch. Couldn’t do anything else. It was just temporary. After a month, I still hadn’t found a place to live and had nowhere to go.”

Services from the Interfaith Outreach Association, Supportive Services for Veteran Families, and other organizations helped him find housing and a job.

Sarah Quarantotto, Executive Director, Miriam’s House, announced the news of Lynchburg’s achievement.

“We are creating a reality in Lynchburg where homelessness is neither inevitable or inescapable and does not have to become a way of life for those who are experiencing it.”

In January 2019, 20 veterans in the community were experiencing homelessness. Today, that number is one, which is below the Continuum of Care’s capacity to routinely house three per month.

Lynchburg Mayor MaryJane Dolan said, “I know the work continues, and I want you to know this community appreciates everything you are doing to stem the tide of homelessness among our veterans.”

Veterans like Adam Holmes, who said the support he received got him to where he is today.

“I’ve maintained my sobriety. I haven’t had anything to drink and I haven’t done any drugs in over two and a half years. I’m really proud about that.”

Quarantotto said she is expecting a spike in homelessness when the moratorium on evictions is lifted but says they received funds through the CARES Act to help with that.

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