Shenandoah University Ramps Up Effort To Serve Winchester’s Low-Income Community

Shenandoah University Ramps Up Effort To Serve Winchester’s Low-Income Community

Low-income residents of Winchester City are in dire need of affordable health care and housing, according to a report recently compiled by the VISTA program at Shenandoah University.

The study looked at prior needs assessments completed by local agencies as well as U.S. Census data and other health and housing rankings. “Since the mission of our two VISTAs is to build capacity to move people out of poverty in Winchester City, it was prudent to review reports as to status of poverty in this area,” said Center for Public Service & Scholarship Director Karen Schultz. “Interestingly, in looking at numerous sources, there was not an up to date report solely on the City of Winchester.

The study is a direct result of the Americorps Volunteers In Service To America (VISTA) grant awarded to Shenandoah University and Our Health. The three-year grant will be utilized to enhance the level of community engagement of Shenandoah University students with the 56 members of Our Health. It provides two VISTAs, Mike Madden and Erica Shifflett, to collaborate with SU and Our Health on the project.

Shifflett synthesized existing information about the City of Winchester into one report, which summarizes the state of the low-income community. According to the report, 17 percent of the total population is living in poverty, with 25 percent of household incomes checking in at $25,000 or less. In the city, overall health indicators are unfavorable as compared to the state and the city’s peer counties, and roughly 20 percent of the city’s population is uninsured. In addition, 53 percent of those who rent housing are unable to afford a two- bedroom apartment at the Fair Market Rate (FMR), identified at $895 per month.

Moving forward, Shifflett and Madden will work to increase the number of Shenandoah University campus community members involved in service to the Winchester community. They plan to create a database in order to match volunteers to Our Health organizations based on skills as well as personal and professional interests. The group will also create an advisory board consisting completely of low-income residents of the City of Winchester to further determine the needs of the low-income population.

To see a full copy of the report, visit http://www3.su.edu/www/VISTA-poverty-report.pdf.

Shenandoah University is the private, nationally recognized applied liberal arts institution, located in Winchester, Va., with an enrollment of more than 4,000 students. Shenandoah’s close-knit community is rich in creative energy and intellectual challenge. Shenandoah empowers its students to help the human condition and to be principled professionals and leaders wherever they go.