Alternate housing forthcoming for evicted families

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Suffolk News-Herald

Three of the six families evicted from the Suffolk Shelter for the Homeless two days before Thanksgiving may have new homes soon.

The Suffolk Department of Social Services spent Monday searching for places where the six women and their 11 children – who spent the holiday weekend at the Rodeway Inn, courtesy of the city – to move into this week. The city will no longer foot the bill for the families to stay at the downtown Suffolk motel after today.


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As of late Monday, one family had moved to Maryland with relatives and two others, working with social services, were in the final stages of

renting apartments.

&uot;The rentals aren’t done deals quite yet,&uot; said Dennis Craff, city spokesman. &uot;And we are still trying to place the other three families.&uot;

Although social services has found places in private homes and other Hampton Roads shelters for the three families, the women have refused those alternatives, said Joice Whitehorn, the agency’s assistant director.

&uot;We are still scouring Suffolk to find available permanent or semi-permanent housing,&uot; she said. &uot;The majority of the residents have children in school here.

&uot;They want them to be able to remain in their respective schools and we support that.&uot;

But it’s difficult finding affordable housing in the city, especially on such short notice, Whitehorn added.

&uot;We have run into problems, most of it related to finances,&uot; she said. &uot;The housing that is affordable and reasonable for our customers is usually not immediately available.&uot;

The homeless shelter has refused to let the six women return to its facility, she said.

&uot;We are committed to making sure we offer some alternatives and options,&uot; Whitehorn said. &uot;They have the choice to accept what we are able to come up with to give them reasonable shelter or else we are in the situation of going back to the drawing board.&uot;

The most critical factor to children’s welfare, she said.

If the mothers choose not to take advantage of housing options offered by social services, they may be at risk for

losing custody of their children, she said.

&uot;If they don’t take the options we come up with – and we are steadily going through them – our hands will be tied,&uot; said Whitehorn said. &uot;Poverty is never a reason for abuse or neglect.

&uot;And failure to avail one’s self to services that are present could denote a certain amount of neglect.&uot;