Prince William County officials will hold a listening session tonight to hear from the public about a new “homeless navigation center” proposed for a strip mall near Interstate 66 and Sudley Road in Manassas.
The homeless navigation center is proposed for 7300 New Market Court. It’s planned to provide mostly daytime services to area residents without a permanent place to live, such as help finding housing, counseling, help with signing up for public benefits, free meals and access to showers and laundry.
The space could also provide emergency overnight shelter space in extreme conditions, but wouldn’t be used as in that way regularly, said Courtney Tierney, director Prince William County’s Department of Social Services.
The listening session will be held at 6:30 p.m. tonight, Wednesday, June 9, at the Best Western hotel at 10820 Balls Ford Road, Manassas. The event will be held in the Battlefield ballroom.
“Residents are encouraged to attend to offer input, learn more about the center and receive answers to questions,” according to a county press release.
The space the county is considering for the homeless navigation center is a former fitness facility. It was chosen because it has showers, adequate water supply and is .2 miles from a bus stop, Tierney said in an email Wednesday.
“The size gives us many options. We also liked that we can have an entrance and parking area that is more private to maintain confidentiality,” Tierney wrote.
The center would be similar to the Bill Mehr drop-in center, which provides help to residents without homes in eastern Prince William. The drop-in center is located off of Telegraph Road near the Potomac Mills mall in Woodbridge.
There is not currently a similar resource on the western end of the county, although advocates for the homeless in the Manassas area have been advocating for just such a center in recent years, citing an increasing need.
If the county moves forward with the center, it would take about 18 months to renovate the space, which would put the planned opening at about March 2023, Tierney said.
County staff for the facility would have to be included in the county’s fiscal year 2024 budget. The county supervisors just approved the budget for fiscal year 2022, which begins July 1.