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Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2023

There are two items in today’s newsletter: One is something you can do, and the other is an important story that we hope you’ll spend some time with.

First, please join us for a forum with the four certified candidates for the four open seats on Charlottesville City School Board. There are only seven members on the Board, so this is a big change in our public schools. We’re hosting the forum with Charlottesville United for Public Education, In My Humble Opinion talk show and Vinegar Hill Magazine, so be sure to click to RSVP.

Two children lean over a table with craft supplies.
Credit: Courtesy of Charlottesville City Schools

Join on Oct. 18: Four new people will join the Charlottesville City School Board, but who are the candidates?

And here’s the story we’d love you to spend some time with and share in your conversations on NextDoor, Facebook and Reddit, and with friends and neighbors.

In the last week, we’ve gotten more than 50 messages from community members about the tent community in Market Street Park in downtown Charlottesville. When the City lifted the park’s curfew in September, people who’d been living on the streets, or in the woods, found refuge there. And many residents and business owners are concerned.

But what’s next? At a City Council meeting Monday, Oct. 2, City Manager Sam Sanders presented a “homeless intervention strategy.” The city’s main focus is on opening an additional shelter — or several.

“Council recently adopted a vision that states, ‘Charlottesville will be a place where everyone thrives,'” Sanders said during that meeting. “I submit that the reference to ‘everyone’ in this vision should include even those who don’t have an address.”

In the last two years, this area actually had the type of shelter Sanders is proposing. Our neighborhoods reporter Erin O’Hare has been following that shelter, Premier Circle, from the time it opened in 2021 until it closed on June 30 of this year. The shelter was located at the site of the old Red Carpet Inn on Route 29 during the COVID-19 crisis, because it was dangerous to shelter people in bunks or on cots together in one room.

And while the funding and creation of Premier Circle was a response to a global pandemic, the effect of providing low-barrier shelter and rooms where people could stay as long as they needed, was huge locally. Ultimately, the stability of shelter at Premier Circle helped many people enroll in benefits they were eligible for. And 91 of them actually found housing.

How? I hope you take some time with Erin’s report, especially if you are interested in better understanding the complexity of homelessness, and the lives of our neighbors who struggle to find a place to live.

A man in a striped shirt sits at a bench with cans and bottles of water in front of him. A small cooler is next to the bench. Another man sits on a camp chair at the end of the bench, with tents lined behind him.
Credit: Ézé Amos/Charlottesville Tomorrow

Charlottesville had — and lost — a shelter that social workers say could have helped hundreds of unhoused people off the streets

As always, thanks for reading and forwarding these newsletters to a friend.

See you back in your inbox on Friday,
Angilee Shah, CEO and Editor-in-Chief

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Hi, I'm Charlottesville Tomorrow's CEO and Editor-in-Chief. I’d love to know more about want you want from local news. Let’s find a time to talk. And keep up with our work by subscribing to our free email newsletter!