People experiencing homelessness in Harrisonburg protest Sunday

Adults experiencing homelessness protested the closing of Open Door.
Published: Aug. 14, 2022 at 7:04 PM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - Some people experiencing homelessness in Harrisonburg were protesting for affordable housing and better shelter conditions Sunday.

“Affordable housing for everybody, because no matter if you have a good paying job or not housing is hard to afford. It’s gonna take three of us at the shelter for us to get a place,” Alex Dickey, who is currently experiencing homelessness said.

Dickey said they are looking for affordable housing because the shelters are not available enough to those that use them.

“Open Doors, they’re closed as of tomorrow morning we’ll have nowhere to go, and there’s nowhere we can put up tents because it’s not legal to do,” Dickey said.

Open Doors is a thermal shelter normally only opened for the winter months, but since the pandemic, they have remained open year-round.

“There are people having heat strokes; they’re having seizures in this heat, dealing with heat exhaustion,” Dickey said.

Open Doors began renting out JMU’s D-Hub in May for the summer, but since students will be returning to campus next week the shelter is now looking for another location.

“We don’t even have the basics of water, and anyone can end up homeless in any way,” Dickey said.

People experiencing homelessness are expected to be out near City Hall again on Monday morning as they continue to protest.

“I think part of what we’re trying to reach is getting people to realize what’s going on. We have to be outside by seven o’clock in the morning; we have to be back in the door by seven,” Dickey said.

In June of 2022, the City of Harrisonburg purchased property to create a permanent low-barrier shelter for adults experiencing homelessness.

Renovations are underway and Mike Parks with the City of Harrisonburg said they are expected to be complete in the later half of 2023.

Parks said the city continues to support Open Doors in finding a temporary location until the permanent building is ready.

Parks said on Aug. 22 at 8 a.m. at Council Chambers, Mayor Reed will host a forum asking any organization that can help Open Doors to come out and discuss how we all can work together to address this need in our community.

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