* Public Comments, Questions & City Responses are Now Posted Under "Related Information" *
About the Lighthouse Center
The Lighthouse Center was built and opened in 1997 after a multi-year site search. It is located at the corner of 18th St. and Washington Avenue, near what was then the Virginia Beach Pavilion. It is a 3,300-square-foot building designed only as a center to provide services to the single homeless. The Lighthouse Center is operated by Volunteers of America and provides no shelter or housing. It also does not serve families. The components of the Lighthouse Center were agreed upon as a compromise between the city and advocates who were in favor of establishing a shelter.
Need for Lighthouse Center Relocation & Expansion
In 2009, several issues, including enhanced attention to the issue of ending homelessness and information about best practices, caused the city to identify a need to relocate and expand the Lighthouse Center:
- The current center has inadequate space even for its current mission
- It does not serve families
- It does not provide a location for central intake and/or coordinated services, which need to be a key feature of a system that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will continue funding
Initial Site Search & Community Input Process (Winter/Spring 2011)
After a two-year site search, in January 2011, city staff proposed the creation of a new 12,000-square-foot day services-only facility on Birdneck Road near Virginia Beach Boulevard. Before approving that site, the council directed staff to obtain community input.
- Don’t continue to concentrate services at the Oceanfront
- Locate a facility away from a residential area
- Consolidate services in a central location to reduce both the homeless having to travel from place to place and the impact of that traffic on communities
- Make sure to include shelter and/or housing so that the facility can actually help get people off the street.
to community questions and concerns received at public meetings.
As a result of this input, in May 2011 the City Manager informed the City Council that staff would take the following steps, among others, regarding these issues:
- Review site criteria for the relocation of the Lighthouse Center
- Complete additional research on best practices, including how other cities have sited comparable facilities
- Locate additional sites outside the resort area for consideration
- Report back to the City Council
How We Got to a "Campus" Model Concept
In the summer of 2011, staff completed a study (Comparative Analysis of Homeless Facilities and Programs in Selected U.S. Cities and Counties
) showing the value of a “campus" model
that is currently used by other coastal cities and that sites away from the coast can work. In addition, staff and key stakeholders visited Union Mission’s new campus facility in Norfolk, and learned that relocating that facility away from downtown was successful. On Nov. 1, 2011, staff briefed the City Council on the results of the study and were directed to look for sites that would be suitable for a campus model.
New Site Search Conducted (Winter/Spring 2012)
Staff conducted a new site search looking only in areas where housing and shelter are possible and at sites that were large enough for the creation of a “campus” model of services. All of these sites needed to be outside of all AICUZ impacted areas due to the limitation on new discretionary residential units in those zones.
104 N. Witchduck Rd. as a Possible Location
In late spring 2012, staff identified the site at 104 N. Witchduck Rd. as a possible location for a "campus" model concept. A portion of this site was needed for the Witchduck Road widening project, which was a consideration in the decision about purchasing the site. On June 26, 2012, the City Council authorized the purchase of the site at 104 N. Witchduck Road (Ordinance
During the fall of 2012, the Strategic Growth Area office contracted for a study by Urban Design Associates (UDA) to determine how a potential facility could fit on the site and to develop a concept (UDA Site Concept
) of a possible facility.
Study of the Housing Crisis Response System
Proposed Design Funding for FY 2013-14
On May 14, 2013, the City Council voted on the city's proposed budget for FY 2013-14, which included funding for the design of a housing resource center.
Public Input Opportunities
The following opportunities were made available for public input during the proposal process:
April 11, 2013
|Public meeting at Renaissance Academy to learn more about the proposal and provide input.|
|April 18, 2013
||City Council will hold a public hearing on the proposed budget, where residents can comment on this project and anything else in the budget.|
|April 23, 2013
||City Council will hold a second public hearing on the proposed budget.|
|May 14, 2013
||City Council votes on the proposed FY 2013-14 budget. |
Staff developed a proposed development process
that was followed in order to create the best possible center. This development process includes the creation of a Community Advisory Board to have ongoing input to the development process.
To see where we are with the Housing Resource Center project, click here