Category Archives: Homelessness

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