About Homelessness

Homelessness can happen to anyone.

Homelessness in Hampton Roads

More than 3,000 people came for shelter at The Union Mission Ministries last year because they had no place to call home. If you are hungry, tired, and in need of shelter, get help now.

Have you seen a homeless person on the street asking for help? Please don’t give them money. Instead, consider keeping a care package in your car to give to them with items like packaged snacks, socks, bottled water, a rain poncho, fast-food gift card, Union Mission Information Card, and a bus pass to get to the Mission. You can help them restore their dignity and get the help they need.



About_homelessness1Local Statistics from January 2019 – Point in Time Count Southeastern Virginia Homeless Coalition (Norfolk, Chesapeake, Western Tidewater). Statistics include Portsmouth and Virginia Beach.

  • 1,079 persons counted
  • 129 chronically homeless individuals
  • 112 veterans
  • 100 victims of domestic violence
  •  61 reported substance abuse
  • 169 reported serious mental illness


Why are so many homeless?

About_homelessness2It can happen to anyone, anytime. Sometimes it’s a result of circumstances beyond our control: natural disasters, job loss, eviction, divorce, domestic violence, mental illness, medical bills. Most often it’s a result of substance abuse.

It is difficult to say exactly how many homeless people are in the Hampton Roads community, but in 2019, officials counted 1,079 homeless people in area cities including Norfolk, Chesapeake, Portsmouth, Virginia Beach and Western Tidewater. Every day the Mission houses over 400 homeless men, women, and children. There are other shelters with less capacity throughout the area that also house the homeless. This means that on any given day, there could be almost 1,500 homeless people in the Hampton Roads area. In 2020, the Coronavirus pandemic has greatly affected our most vulnerable population and those who had jobs have either lost them or had their hours reduced, and more and more people are experiencing homelessness for the first time — and many don’t know where to turn.

More families on the streets

The face of homelessness is changing. 58 percent of the homeless people in large metropolitan areas are families, usually a single mom with children. They live on the streets or in a temporary shelter. They are the fastest growing population of homeless people today. Reasons for homelessness vary and include job loss, and lack of social support systems.

At least half of homeless women are employed (or employable), but do not earn sufficient wages to support themselves and their children. Families experiencing homelessness move frequently between shelters, overcrowded apartments, and temporary arrangements with relatives or friends. Homeless children are twice as likely to experience hunger, health problems, and repeat a grade in school. Homeless families need assistance with housing, employment, childcare, school enrollment, transportation, recreation, and parenting

You can be part of the solution

Our Women & Children’s Shelter is a beacon of hope for these families. We have expanded our shelter to provide for larger numbers of single women and women with children.

Your gift to The Union Mission brings our city and community one step closer to wholeness as lives are transformed one person at a time. Food, clothing, shelter, education, addiction recovery, job and life skills training, spiritual renewal, and more – all because of friends like you who care.

Give Now

Learn more about homelessness

Facts about homelessness at The Union Mission are available in our Gratitude Report.

The CityGate Network provides a survey of the homeless from over 300 rescue missions across the country.

Learn more

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