The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 appropriated $5 billion to provide housing, services, and shelter to individuals experiencing homelessness and other vulnerable populations in Fiscal Year 2021. The Western Tidewater Region, of which Suffolk serves as the Lead Agency, was awarded $1,415,291.00 for planning and administering homelessness support and programs. The City of Suffolk has identified the need for a physical shelter with a consistent location and services within the City and the Western Tidewater region to a population in need.
The City of Suffolk continues to experience population growth, and with it comes many new exciting opportunities for our City. However, challenges are also presented. Homelessness is one of these challenges for our City and the Western Tidewater Area. Current Suffolk and Western Tidewater Homelessness resources include:
Genieve Shelter – families and individuals attempting to escape domestic violence
ForKids - emergency shelter for families and children
CAPS - rotating night shelter for people experiencing homelessness in the winter months
Beacon of Hope in Western Tidewater, Inc. – homeless resource and winter shelter program
Additional services of need in our service region include:
- Rapid Rehousing provides short-term rental assistance and services to provide temporary housing to people experiencing homelessness, moving them quickly out of homelessness and into permanent housing.
- Sheltered Homelessness refers to people who are staying in emergency shelters, transitional housing programs, or safe havens.
With that need in mind, an extensive site search was conducted. The Regal Inn, 2361 Pruden Boulevard, was identified as an ideal location to establish a permanent homeless shelter as well as a base of operations to provide additional support and services. This facility will fulfill a need of consistency of resources to those in need of housing. Stays of residence will be temporary but will offer flexibility based upon an individual's need and circumstance.
The City of Suffolk will own the facility but plans to put out a bid for management and operations to a third party with extensive background in the operations of a homeless shelter and services.
Property - Existing Conditions, Regal Inn
The current site houses a two-story brick and masonry structure, constructed around 1987. The building is 6,688 SF of gross building area and operates as a motel. The motel currently features 19 rooms for rent, a management office/apartment, one laundry room and two small storage closets. All rooms are accessed independently from the outside. The facility is currently serviced by City water and sewer. The site currently features 20 parking spaces and a monument sign.
The property has only seen cosmetic and as needed improvements through the years, and as such, the clientele staying at the motel are usually low on resources and funds. This has presented challenges from a public safety standpoint. From years 2013 – 2023, the Suffolk Police Department has reported to the location 421 times. These visits were almost evenly distributed between citizen calls for service as well as officer initiated. Some of the most common complaints include disturbance, suspicious person, warrant execution, and mental health checks.
Property - Proposal
The building layout and function will require mainly cosmetic improvements to convert the operation from a motel to a homeless shelter. The existing rooms will require flooring, painting, and furniture replacement. Plumbing and HVAC will be upgraded. No changes to water and sewer operations are proposed. Access to the rooms will require a significant modification and design. The facility will be controlled and managed. Each individual approved to stay overnight will be vetted and reviewed. Additionally, physical improvements will occur at the property and the building to provide managed control of only approved individuals on the premise. Security measures to assist in control of access will also be an added feature and be complimented by security cameras around the perimeter of the building and main office.
The office/apartment will be converted to an office and meeting space for facility management, intake process, resident meetings, and resource discussion and review.
There is no land disturbance needed as the existing parking and building work in its present configuration.
Building Interior - Room
Data on Homelessness
Presented for inclusion in this application is the Southeastern Virginia Homeless Coalition Annual Report as prepared by The Planning Council, August 2022