Daytime Shelter Plans Moving Forward

By: Althea Paul
By: Althea Paul

March 29, 2006

A local group is moving forward with their plans, hoping to give more homeless people in Charlottesville a place to go during the day.

"We just spend our day roaming the streets," said Rick Ratliff.

Ratliff, like about 175 people in Charlottesville, is homeless. The number of homeless people wandering the downtown mall, the library, and the parks during the day, prompted one area resident to take action.

"These are people and they deserve a place to go," said Jim Barns.

About six months ago Barns founded Compass Day Haven, the area's first daytime homeless shelter that's widely open to anyone. Now things are moving ahead full force.

“We're looking for a part-time employee to really focus in on this. We need someone who's going to go after grant money and also to find a location in downtown Charlottesville," said Barns.

The center would offer services like laundry and bathrooms and help in getting people back on their feet.

"They need a place where they have more amenities. Where they can have more attention, social service attention, medical attention, employment possibilities," said Barns.

However, there may be some uneasiness about opening up a facility like Compass.

"Would it promote homelessness? Would it promote people just doing nothing? It's natural to ask that question, but I don't believe it would. I believe on the contrary, it would be a help to homeless persons. I think it would be a catalyst in helping people find work," said Major Bruce Smith, with the Salvation Army.

"Some will linger and that would be what their lifestyle is like, but I think for some it will be a boost," said Barns.

A boost that for Ratliff would make all the difference in the world.

“You don't have to worry about getting kicked out at 6:30 in the morning, nowhere to go," he said.

After someone is hired, Barns hopes they can get the call rolling and open up the center as soon as possible.

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