Homeless find haven in park

Aug. 22, 2005 at 11:37 PM
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RICHMOND, Va., Aug. 22 (UPI) -- Richmond's oldest city park has become the central green space for Virginia Commonwealth University but is still a haven for the homeless.

With new buildings going up around the park and new sprinkler system to keep the grass green, Monroe Park has become the renewed focal point for Virginia Commonwealth University, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.

Meanwhile, Pastor John Rains and his wife have been showing up since February with Sunday lunch for the hungry.

Rains and his wife run Hope House Ministries. The park is their Richmond "church." Their "Sunday service" is the lunch they fix.

"Here in Monroe Park we have a very unique situation," Rains says. "Monroe Park has become the central green space for VCU as well as for the residents in this area, so it's a very diverse, shared use of this green space."

Paul W. Timmreck, VCU's senior vice president for finance and administration, said the university knows that homeless people have a right to be in the park.

He said VCU cleans and polices the park to "make it a safe and secure place" for students, homeless people and nearby residents."

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