In 2005 those with mental illness, intellectual disabilities or substance issues were finding it almost impossible to find decent affordable housing.
Property values were rising and old homes once divided into small apartments or with rooms to let were being reconverted to single family residences. Traditional rooming facilities like Staunton's historic old Stonewall Jackson Hotel were being closed. The old hotel underwent a multi-million dollar renovation and expansion to reopen as a new hotel and conference center. Suddenly anything approaching decent housing for this population was becoming too expensive - or simply not available.
Many of these individuals have an extremely low income. Frequently they are forced to live in unsafe, unsanitary and generally unhealthy conditions. Some have no home and live with friends, in shelters or on the street.
Valley Area Community Support Inc. (VACSI) - now Valley Supportive Housing - was formed late in 2005 to respond to these growing needs, to find ways to create affordable and safe housing for these individuals and to provide some of the special services they need, but that might not be available in the community.
VACSI purchased its first property that same year, the old Effie Ann Daycare Center at 1314 West Johnson Street in Staunton. The facility was to have 10 attractive and affordable apartments, plus space for an office for a Valley Community Services Board program. Rental of the office space would enable the charity to offer rents at well below-market levels. Following a lengthy and sometimes contentious process, VACSI obtained a permit for the project.
Opposition from a few in the community and the city planning department caused Staunton City Council to limit the permit to 3 years, and required a final review at that point.
VACSI completed the renovation and proved that the facility was a good neighbor to the extent that, at the end of the three years, the community supported the project and City Council unanimously made the special use permit permanent.
Now Valley Supportive Housing, the organization has subsequently purchased and renovated three other houses in Staunton, and today has 24 apartments. The charity also maintains special funding for other needs for the population it serves, and has formal Memorandums of Understanding with the VCSB and the Valley Mission. It also works closely with other local services to meet the needs of its residents.
More On VSH Facilities
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Karen Cochran - Chair
Phil Swann Jr.
Many area and regional individuals and corporate citizens have contributed to help VACSI continue to grow to meet real needs.