On Thursday, January 9, 2020, Sleepy Herd travelled to the City of Richmond Virginia to discuss with their law enforcement and the Mayor’s Office, their thoughts on addressing the homeless population who live in their cars. Sleepy Herd’s Executive Director, Kelsay Patterson, first met with Officers Jason Kuti and Matthew Mchugh of the City’s Homeless Outreach Partnership and Enforcement (HOPE) division.
Richmond Police Department
Richmond City Hall
The officers agreed that it is not lawful for people to park and sleep in their cars on public streets. They acknowledged, like so many other officers across America, they answer calls requiring them to interact with people who are doing nothing more than trying to sleep in their cars.
They affirmed that it would be nice if they had a place where officers could direct such persons to in order to get a safe night’s sleep when the nature of the person trying to sleep is in no way criminal. They identified a few areas in Richmond that they believed could benefit from some TLC in the form of a high quality beautifully designed parking lot, and some new economic vibrancy.
Later that day, Mr. Patterson met with Deputy Chief Administrative Officer of Human Services, Reginald E. Gordon. Given Mr. Gordon’s many years of trying to address and resolve this many faceted problem that is homelessness, he recognized the problem of living in one’s car especially as it affects so many single male Veterans.
Admittedly fatigued by the same traditional solutions from the homelessness industry that do not seem to move the needle, he welcomed more discussions with the Mayor’s Office that should include projected locations for such a foray, and greater elaboration about the planning and design of such a high-quality beautiful parking lot.
Since that meeting, in anticipation of the next meeting to occur, Sleepy Herd has reached out to Dr. Ben Carson, the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), for the purpose of exploring the idea of the City of Richmond, Virginia as a potential pilot-program.
For the Fiscal Year of 2020, the U.S. Dept. of HUD’s enacted budget allocated $56.54 billion to state and local governments for addressing homelessness and providing homelessness support.
The cost of 1 high quality parking lot would be $5.6 million, or 1/101 of 1% of this budgeted amount.
A new solution must be given a chance for it to have an opportunity to improve the status quo, and Richmond seems ready to seriously consider altering the status quo.