Williamsburg House of Mercy received $107,795 from Governor Northam’s Virginia Housing Trust Fund Homeless Reduction Grants to ensure that older adults are able to secure stable housing.

“As a frequently overlooked population, we knew these adults deserved a designated program and stabilization now. We know these adults do not deserve to spend a decade in homelessness before they age into the next program,” explains Shannon Woloszynowski, executive director for Williamsburg House of Mercy. “We are seeing more and more adults entering homelessness for the first time as the economic impacts of the pandemic continue. OARS is a program designed to make an immediate impact.”

Williamsburg House of Mercy started the OARS (Older Adults Returning to Stability) program specifically to fill the gap for their clients between the ages of 50 to 61. Adults in this age range are not eligible for low-income housing for the elderly yet, but often have multiple barriers to housing and end up in places not meat for human habitation, in thermal shelters, emergency rooms, and jail.

This program is particularly needed on the Upper Peninsula because the rents are some of the highest in the Continuum of Care. To provide the necessary case management, Williamsburg House of Mercy and James City County Department of Social Services Housing Unit (JCC Housing) are partnering through this grant to ensure long-term stability and success for adults in the OARS program. In particular, these funds will provide the necessary Rapid Re-Housing for 12 chronically homeless older adults (50 and over), as well as rental assistance, rent arrears, housing stabilization financial assistance, housing stabilization case management.  Once services and resources are in place (up to 120 days), OARS program participants will be considered by JCC Housing for their Mainstream Voucher Program.  Case management, resources and other community support will continue to be provided by Williamsburg House of Mercy staff and will remain in place throughout the period of assistance Rapid Rehousing, and will remain in place once the Mainstream Voucher is issued.

“We are grateful for this partnership with James City County and the financial support of the Virginia Housing Trust Fund. These efforts are part of our long-term housing strategy that will continue to accompany individuals to stability.”

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