You asked: Five families identified in most recent homeless recent count

Published 10:00 am Saturday, February 25, 2012

Curious about something in Western Tidewater? Send your question to, and we’ll do our best to find the answer.

You Asked: How many homeless families are in Franklin and the surrounding area?

An organization tasked with helping homeless families is assisting three adults and two children in Franklin and counts a total of six adults and two children as homeless.

Thaler McCormick, chief executive officer of ForKids in Norfolk, said that during a two-day count in August the organization found five homeless families comprising six adults and two children in the Franklin-Southampton County area. The August count is the most recent.

“It’s a pretty good number, but there’s no way to catch everybody,” McCormick said. “Of course, you’re going to miss people.”

She said it’s particularly hard to help everyone in need because people are not always reaching out for services.

“They could be couch-surfing, and because they’ve always had a place to sleep at night, they don’t identify themselves as homeless,” McCormick said.

“Couch surfers” go from home to home staying with friends and relatives.

McCormick said her organization defines homelessness as not having a regular place to live.

Franklin Director of Social Services Alan Hogge said the city doesn’t have to deal with many issues of homelessness but instead deals with benefits for boarders, who are individuals or families who stay with relatives and friends.

The Western Tidewater branch of ForKids operates a shelter it acquired in 2008 in Suffolk and recently changed its program to include state-funded vouchers for homeless families in the Franklin-Southampton area to stay at local hotels.

“The goal is to re-house them within 30 days,” McCormick said.

The organization pays for a hotel stay of up to four days at a time. As long as there is a commitment to find work by parents and the children are registered for school, families can continue to receive the vouchers.

“As long as they’re taking care of business, we provide an additional four days,” McCormick said.

ForKids is also seeing positive results from homeless-prevention assistance, which provides short-term money and case management for families at risk of becoming homeless.

A third program is called rapid re-housing, and it provides financial assistance to help families quickly transition from homelessness to permanent housing. This includes assistance with rent and utility deposits.

From October to December, the ForKids call center fielded 23 calls from 11 Franklin households requesting utility assistance, rental assistance or shelter. For information, call 622-5920.