Category Archives: Homelessness

Poking the Woke, and Human Waste in Charlottesville

California comes to Charlottesville: urine, feces, hypodermic needles, trash, and all.

“Affordable housing.”

by Jock Yellott

“What happened to the First Amendment in this country . . . ?” demanded somebody calling himself ‘Rudy Hess.’ Charlottesville Mayor Lloyd Snook cut the audio. This was late in the City Council meeting, about 10 p.m. during public comments mostly taken up by remarks on Charlottesville’s new homeless tent city.

Several previous callers had exhausted Snook’s patience and good humor. They started by pretending to be agreeably Woke. “Speaking as a transgender person,” said one before launching into obscenities, which had to be cut off. Another, ‘Sadie Enwird’ (sound it out after you finish the paragraph) claimed to be a Social Worker helping the homeless. Two minutes later she broke into a toxic rant: “The best solution is to round them all up and send them back to Africa, all these fucking niggers . . . ” Such hate speech, the City Attorney opined, justified cutting her off, too.

Then came ‘Rudy Hess.’ The original Deputy Führer Rudolph Hess sentenced at Nuremburg, committed suicide in prison at age 93. Why would a dead Nazi war criminal poseur phone in to Charlottesville’s City Council? Or the others who were cut off?

Calling it Poking the Woke.

City Council and the Woke champions of the “unhoused” who dominate public comments in the last couple of meetings are easy targets. The activists hurl invective and obscenities of their own, as well as indulging in make-believe. They fomented a fake grievance to loosen the City’s purse strings and get funding for a homeless shelter. From the video of the City Council meeting September 18, 2023, starting at 2:53:19:

There was a incident at the park, where one of the officers kicked the young man that was setting here …. [The officer] was trying to wake him up. But instead of gently touching him … he decided to kick him. And … prior to that … your officers went over to Lee Park and woke everybody up, and made ’em leave with the exception of the white people that were in the park.

He kicked that boy like he was kicking a football down the field to the other team,” another alleged witness told our local paper, the Daily Progress. “He put his soul into that kick.

Continue reading

Richmond Cold Weather Shelter Finally Finalized

by Jon Baliles

The inability of the City to open warm weather shelters for the homeless during the big freeze on Christmas weekend was enough to draw the ire of most of City Council and many others. The recent thawing of temperatures has made it less of a pressing issue, but the cold is coming back. Thankfully, however, it seems the City has now reached an agreement to open a third shelter with 60 more beds through Commonwealth Catholic Charities (CCC) and a  fourth shelter should open next week, according to Tyler Layne at CBS6.

“Praise God,” said 5th District Councilwoman Stephanie Lynch, who for months has been the foremost voice at City Hall trying to get the shelters open. “I think that the stakeholders, community members, the city, and certainly city council have put a lot of work and a lot of time into standing up a continuum of shelters,” she said. “I feel like we have arrived at a much better place than where we were even several weeks ago.”


CCC has been bounced around like a yo-yo by the City since late summer and even raised $30,000 in private funds so they could open temporarily to help the homeless survive the Christmas deep freeze.

“The outpouring of financial support from individuals and community partners has been truly remarkable,” said Jay Brown, CEO of Commonwealth Catholic Charities. “Their generosity and compassion enabled us to open the shelter when freezing temperatures threatened lives.”

The shelter on Chamberlayne Avenue will remain open through April 14, and the contract with the City will provide 60 beds, meals, restroom facilities, case management, and other resources. The fourth shelter at 5th Street Baptist Church, also in Northside, should open next week.

A spokesperson for the City told Jeremy Wall at WRIC: The City of Richmond is grateful for the partnership with Commonwealth Catholic Charities and their continued commitment to our unhoused residents. The contract that was signed allows the city to add another 60 beds to the 100 we currently provide.  We count today as a good day because we have expanded the capacity to provide shelter for our residents.”

So we can be thankful this winter’s capacity is finally coming online after months of inexcusable delays. But we also need to make sure the ineptitude does not return next winter (yes, winter will come back next year). That’s why it is good to see that Lynch is still calling for an investigation into how the administration is managing its shelters and spending funds. She said she’d like to see all four shelters finalize contracts with the city, as RVA Sisters Keeper and United Nations Church have been operating shelters since November without a contract in place. Continue reading

Thawing the Brain Freeze at City Hall

Richmond City Hall

by Jon Baliles

We can be thankful for a weather warm-up this week after last week’s bitter cold. Maybe it will help thaw the brain freeze at City Hall and enable them to fix the shelter situation before the next bitter cold arrives (hint, it’s coming back).

Last week, after Tyler Lane at CBS6 filed a cringeworthy report about the failure of the City to provide enough shelter and people being turned away, City Hall was opened at the last minute for the two days over the Christmas weekend for people to warm up. But then those in need were turned back out into the cold at 4 p.m. each day just as the temperature fell back into the teens.

The City did get two shelters open in Manchester with a capacity of about 100 beds in November (with about 450 needed total) through two non-profits. The excuses from the Administration for not opening the other shelters and expanding capacity were legion. The City is still quibbling with one non-profit over contract terms before they can get funding and open for the winter (they opened last week briefly with private funds to get through the cold spell). Continue reading

RVA 5×5 – New Year’s Nuggets

by Jon Baliles

Left In The Cold

The Richmond Free Press Editorial Page ends the year batting 1.000 and goes two for two this week. The main editorial covers the disgraceful lack of attention, urgency and concern by the mayor and the administration for those in need of shelter during last week’s arctic blast. It opens with two sentences any “leader” should be ashamed of:

“Here’s the good news: So far, there have been no reports of unsheltered people freezing to death in the arctic blast that hit the Richmond area just before Christmas. With private and city-supported shelters full, people were left in the cold.”

It goes through the debacle over the past few months (you can read more here and here) and questions why zoning and special use permits were held out among the excuses as to why shelters in certain parts of town were unable to open. I recall a time not too distant when the mayor used “emergency powers” for numerous other issues during the pandemic; I guess emergency shelter for the homeless in 10-degree weather does not qualify.

The editorial also notes that the Council approved a special use permit two years ago for a shelter by a different operator in the same spot on Chamberlayne Avenue in Northside, but this year they are still waiting to get through the red tape.

“It would seem simple enough to create a legal fig leaf that would have allowed CCC (Commonwealth Catholic Charities) to fully open. No, it was more important that CCC gain its own permission slip, even if that took forever and left desperate people in the cold.”

And then, the brilliant denouement:

“Mayor Stoney has lectured everyone about how this city’s goal is to create One Richmond and equity for all. Apparently, you had to read the fine print on his messaging: Legal niceties are more important than people. Alas.”

Jon Baliles is a former Richmond City Councilman. This column was published originally in his blog RVA 5×5 and is republished here with permission.

Homelessness in Petersburg – Part 2

Travel Inn was shut down by the ACE team in June. Courtesy Joyce Chu, Progress Index.

by James C. Sherlock

I wrote yesterday about the excellent investigative reporting by the Progress-Index about the knock-on effects of the renewal of fire and building code enforcement in Petersburg.

My position is that Petersburg must enforce its codes for public safety and the livability of the city.

But I also recognize the need to provide better solutions to homelessness in that city. I am pursuing a story on that subject.

But in the meanwhile, the Progress-Index’s Joyce Chu has posted her second article in that series.  I refer to

‘A fresh can of nowhere to go’: Health and stability stumble with fewer motel rooms for those on the edge”

It consists almost exclusively of the stories of those displaced with the closure of those motels.

It is powerful stuff.

Petersburg Resumes Important Actions Against City Code Violators — Homeless Needs Increase

Travel Inn was shut down by the ACE team in June. Courtesy Joyce Chu, Progress Index.

by James C. Sherlock

Sometimes absolutely necessary actions have more than one outcome.

Such is the case in Petersburg.

Joyce Chu of Petersburg’s indispensable Progress- Index last evening initiated a multi-part series on the impacts of the city’s closure due to safety violations of two motels used by otherwise homeless people.

Her first article makes a case for more government and charitable services for the people affected by the closures. Good for her. No one wants people living on the streets and everyone wants the kids in school.

She explains that the California Inn, OYO and Travel Inn motels, among a group of low cost motels right off of I-95, were

also hotbeds of crime, drug overdoses and prostitution mixed in with families with children, according to former residents and homeless advocates.

She points out that Petersburg has resumed (after a lengthy period when it did not) enforcing its zoning codes. A team called the ACE team — Abatement, Compliance, and Enforcement — is on task, run by the Fire Chief.

Code enforcement is an absolutely necessary step to revitalize the city.

So is helping those adversely affected.  -Hotel owners should be forced within the limits of the law to assist. Continue reading

“The City Is Shaming Itself”

Photo credit:

by Jon Baliles

It was cold at night this week but not as cold as it will soon get, and a warming trend over the next week looks likely (never trust the weather forecast more than 48 hours in advance). That is good news for those who seek a warm place to sleep at night, since the city can’t seem to get its act together in regard to a warm weather shelter. Actually, it’s difficult to discern whether or not the city is having a hard time or if it even gives a damn whether the shelter opens or not.

VPM noted that last week at City Council’s Education and Human Services Committee meeting, Councilwoman Stephanie Lynch said, We are not meeting our moral obligation. We are failing.”

Since the closing of the city’s main shelter at the Annie Giles Center in Shockoe Valley in 2020 during the pandemic, there has (barely) been a patchwork of band-aid solutions and fits and starts at opening another shelter.

The Free Press reports this week that the city opened two shelters this week as temperatures dropped into the 30’s — one with 50 beds for men and another with 50 for women — but no space allowed for adults with children. And apparently, not many people knew about it. Continue reading