Former Homeless Woman Lobbies on Capitol Hill for More Services to Help Homeless in the Area

July 26, 2013

Any given day, there are between 200 and 300 people living on the streets in Charlottesville and the surrounding areas. Rebeckah Armistead used to be one of them, but now she's pushing for more services to help the homeless in the area.

"To be homeless, it's the fear of the unknown," said Armistead. "Not knowing where you're going to put your head the next day. If you don't have family support, then you're on your own."

Armistead turned to the Salvation Army to help get back on her feet after spending 20 years battling homelessness. The Salvation Army emergency shelter is the only overnight shelter open year-round in all of central Virginia.

"We are pretty much packed all year long," said Ben Houchens, the director of the shelter. "We could fill another 58 beds easily."

But providing more beds would require more money, which the organization doesn't have. More than $39,000 was slashed from the budget by cuts to federal funding.

This week Armistead took her issues to Capitol Hill, to meet with Virginia Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner, as part of the National Conference on Ending Homelessness.

"I want them to get more involved, I want them to take notice," said Armistead. She also invited Representative Robert Hurt to tour the shelters. "I really think congressmen, our representatives, need to see first hand what it's like."

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