ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — The largest day shelter for homeless people in the Star City, Roanoke Area Ministries (RAM House), is looking for a new location to call home.
RAM House started in 1971 when the local government and area congregation noticed an increase in homelessness in Roanoke. Since then, the shelter has grown to become one of the most well-known facilities in the Roanoke Valley.
From its day shelter to providing hot meals to those in need, RAM House is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. all year round. The shelter has a laundry facility, clothing closet, and more. It even assists people with getting Emergency Care Funds for those who qualify.
But now, they are looking to expand their services and settle on new ground.
The Executive Director of RAM House, Melissa Woodson, says in 2022, over 66% of their clients were not sheltered overnight. Depending on the time of the month an average of 45 to 70 people come to the shelter a night and last year RAM House helped house 125 people including 30 children.
But even with its small staff, the effort doesn’t stop there. A third of RAM Houses’ budget goes toward helping clients pay their utility bills and rent to percent them from coming homeless.
“What’s happening in Roanoke post-COVID is rents and utilities are going up. People’s rent is going up $200 to $300 a month, so these people who are getting by before are no longer doing that. We have so many people at our doors asking us for assistance,” said Woodson.
Woodson says their goal for the new facility is to have office space, host NA and AA meetings, and even a small clinic on site. She says this would be a great help to clients going through mental health issues. However, even with a donor who has come forth to purchase a building, they have not been able to find a facility.
For more information on the RAM House and for ways to help, visit their website. Anyone who might know of a good location for RAM House can go to the ‘Get Involved’ tab and click on ‘Help Us Move,’ to submit any recommendations.
“I think Southwest Virginia and Roanoke are such giving people. Somebody is going to care and I think it’s going to come through,” said Woodson.