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New temporary homeless shelter occupying old Greyhound bus station in Downtown Norfolk

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Posted at 2:37 PM, May 11, 2021

NORFOLK, Va. - Behind the chain link fence of the old Greyhound bus station in the NEON District, Delma Valentine gets ready for the day.

"This is the help that I needed. If not, I would be on the street," she said.

For the past year, she's been living outside - until last week when she came to what is now called "The Center."

"As I got here, I talked to someone about finding a job. They helped me with my papers, and they next day they called and hired me," she said.

Delma now works at a hotel downtown. Her road from shelter to success is the exact mission of The Center.

"We have case management, peer support , medical; we have employment specialists, and we can work on future housing plans," said Sarah Paige Fuller, Community Services Board Director.

The parking lot where buses used to idle was transformed with 55 tents on May 1.

"Historically in the the summer, folks for the most part are outside when the winter shelters close," said Fuller.

It is a much needed stopgap as homelessness in the city doubled due to the pandemic.

"It is where these folks would be anyway. They're going to be in the downtown area close to here, so it makes a lot of sense for resources to be here anyway," she explained.

The refuge is safe and secure; it is tended by security 24/7. The city partnered with the Urban Renewal Center to transform the old bus lobby now providing the volunteer staff food, donations and other resources.

Related: Local groups fight to bring tiny homes to Norfolk's homeless population

"They can come for a snack or a meal or just rest their feet, use the restroom or take care of hygiene," said Fuller.

The temporary shelter is being funded by CARES Act money. It will close on October 1 as the city establishes a new permanent shelter.