Merger allows important service to go on

Published 8:05 pm Saturday, November 8, 2008

Not long ago, The Center for Hope and New Beginnings announced that the organization was merging with ForKids, a Norfolk-based emergency shelter and transitional housing provider. Considering the tumultuous history the center has faced in recent years, the merger should provide some needed stability and a credible means to improve funding so that Suffolk continues operating a haven for the homeless.

With five different directors over the course of five years, the shelter seemed destined for a fate that would have called for it to close its doors.

Suffolk doesn’t have the demand for a homeless shelter that other Hampton Roads cities do, but there is still a need. In a city whose population now exceeds 80,000, a functioning homeless shelter is vital. With the economy in such a delicate state, homelessness in Suffolk could rise, thus creating even more of a need.

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Although the Center has a tainted history, there was progress being made by interim director Carolyn McPherson and the governing board. The merger will provide more depth in leadership and resources but will only be as good as the support it receives from the community.

Homelessness is often the elephant in the room, not talked about but unable to be ignored. City leaders need to recognize the importance of the Suffolk shelter and support its endeavors.