NORFOLK, Va. - From tents to temporary housing, 100 men and women in Norfolk are sleeping in warm, safe beds tonight.
Norfolk City Council voted to approve the purchase of $140,000 for the former Budget Lodge on Tidewater Drive. The building is now called The Housing Center on Tidewater, and the folks who are in charge said it's a place for people to get their lives back.
On Thursday morning, Sarah Paige Fuller, director of the Norfolk Community Services Board, canvassed the property making sure each room was clean, stocked and ready for new guests.
"This is a place for folks that don't normally make it into other types of shelters; are typically on the streets all the time," she said. "They know that they will be safe [here]."
Since the city announced the venture, the building has been prepared to house 100 adults, two per room.
That includes the 80 individuals who were sleeping at the old Greyhound bus station in tents and 20 from the waiting list who are considered day guests.
"What it means is that you have the opportunity to take a shower every night or every morning, wash your clothes; to be able to leave everything that you don't need behind and know that you have a place to come back to," said Fuller.
Community advocate Katrinia Freeman has been pushing for this shelter for quite some time.
"This is such a big move for Norfolk that we want to show them that they have our support," said Freeman.
Freeman, along with volunteers from her organization Keep VA Warm, were on site Thursday morning, helping many of the people they've come to know move into their new space.
She said, "Some of them have been outside for many months, and now they have a little bit of what they can call home."
The center said they'll provide two meals a day and said everyone is put on a housing waiting list. There are also six single rooms available for people who need more privacy or if there is a situation where someone needs to quarantine.
"Anyone that didn't come in for overnight, they can start coming 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. every day for day services," Fuller said.
Everyday "day services" include using the laundry, food pantry and having access to employment and medical services.
Fuller said this is the best long-term solution.
"We don't have to worry about where we're going to go. We can refocus on really serving the people well and setting up more permanent services for them," she said.
Operational costs for the center are an estimated $1 million, which is covered by CARES Act funding, Fuller said.