The City of Richmond and Homeless Task Force are hosting a screening of “Community First! A Home for the Homeless, at the Richmond Auditorium Saturday, providing information about the program and how it could be used to mitigate Richmond's homeless problem.
The screening is free and includes refreshments and a Q&A discussion with those who attended the April 2023 how-to symposium at CommunityFirst! Village in Austin, Texas, including councilmembers Sohelia Bana and Gayle McLaughlin, Safe Organized Spaces Executive Director Daniel Barth, Darcy Crosman, Carlyle Garrick, Tanya Jacobs, Pam Morris, Christina Redse, and Jessi Taran.
Councilmember Soheila Bana feels the documentary is a good way to start the discussion about potential solutions to the social problem of homelessness in Richmond.
"We need to have this difficult conversation that has been avoided for too long: what is the solution? I hope that we can bring the residents, businesses, City, and County on board to find a humane solution to a serious social problem of which we only see the externalities like dirty encampments that often catch fire. All it takes is to open our hearts to acknowledge the humanity of all of us, the "us" that includes "them," the chronically homeless," Bana said
Professional Facilitator and Conflict Resolution Consultant Shawn Dunning toured Community First! last year and described it as a "forever home for those who have experienced chronic homelessness."
Dunning also differentiated the issue of chronic homelessness from those who have encountered homelessness as a temporary problem where a navigation center can quickly provide connections and solutions to short-term housing needs.
Chronic homelessness is defined as those who have experienced homelessness for at least a year – or repeatedly – while struggling with a disabling condition such as a serious mental illness, substance use disorder, or physical disability.
"Community First! is a good solution for someone who needs something more like what an assisted living facility would offer. Independence with supervision, where everyone has their own home. They pay rent, and there is a clinic onsite. It's literally a village," Dunning said.
Councilmember Bana said many of the homeless in Richmond have experienced long-term homelessness. "Not all who experience homelessness are chronically homeless, but in Richmond, they seem to be the majority," Bana said.
Saturday, July 29 · 2 - 4 pm
Richmond Memorial Auditorium Bermuda Room - enter via 2533 Nevin Avenue