Horizon Behavioral Health awards nearly $2 million to fight homelessness and substance abuse

Lynchburg, Va. Horizon Behavioral Health receives nearly $2 million in federal funding to fight homelessness and substance abuse in Central Virginia.

“There are a lot more homeless people in this area, or people who also struggle with housing insecurity,” said Dammy Onafowokan, co-project director of the Horizon program.

Onafowokan said that between the rising cost of housing and an increase in mental health and substance abuse problems, more people are struggling.

“Even though they may not be on the street, they may live double, they may surf the couch, they may crash at a friend’s or relative’s house,” Onafowokan said.

More than 20,000 public school students between the ages of 18 and 25 were homeless in Virginia in the 2018-2019 school year, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

“It’s a big, big problem and frankly it’s only gotten worse,” Onafowokan said.

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So Horizon is trying to help that age group.

The organization received $1,991,554 from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The goal is to help 245 people over the next five years.

Onafowokan said Horizon received a similar grant about two years ago when they partnered with other local organizations to offer other services.

“We helped them find a place to shower, find clothes, look for work, etc.”

Now they will also have money to provide temporary housing in the hope of getting people back on their feet.

“It’s not just about finding housing, but there’s no point if they can’t maintain that housing,” Onafowokan said.

Horizon is still creating the program, but Onafowokan said he expects it to be operational in September.

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