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Housing crisis hotline in Norfolk providing hope and help to thousands in need

ForKids crisis hotline.png
Posted at 4:19 PM, Jul 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-14 21:21:31-04

NORFOLK, Va. - "Thank you for calling the crisis hotline - how can I help you?" said Courtney Spann, an intake specialist with ForKids.

Spann is the first friendly voice someone in crisis is desperate to hear.

"Seven out of 10 people are at their wits end, and they found our number as their back is against the wall," said Spann.

She is one of 12 intake specialists at the Regional Housing Crisis Hotline at ForKids in South Norfolk.

"They say things like, 'I am late on my rent; I need utility assistance; I got an eviction notice' - all sorts of things," said Spann.

The phone line is a vital starting point for those experiencing a number of housing issues. The call center serves 14 cities and counties across Hampton Roads.

"We went from having 150 to 200 calls a day to upwards of 800 to 1,000 in one day," said Thaler McCormick, ForKids CEO.

McCormick says there was a huge housing crisis before the pandemic, but the pandemic exposed it. In the first part of 2020, they answered 55,000 calls from 27,000 households needing help.

"It is really heart paining to me," said Spann. "I want to help them."

The goal inside the room is to help get the caller resources, whether it be temporary housing, help with rent, bills or learning their rights as a tenant with ever-involving state, federal and local laws and programs.

"I like to say I am giving them a flotation device, helping them stay afloat," said Spann.

The call center manager says he believes when the federal eviction ban is lifted at the end of the month, they believe call volume can spike up to 50 percent.

"Something that is a housing crisis right now is only going to get worse," said McCormick.

ForKids says for their fiscal year of 2021 starting in May of last year, they placed 86% of families who came into shelters into appropriate housing.

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