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Community tackles homelessness at Salem Civic Center

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SALEM (WSLS 10) - Dozens of people gathered at the Salem Civic Center on Tuesday to address a problem many families are experiencing in the Roanoke Valley, homelessness.

The Blue Ridge Continuum of Care held a symposium to collaborate and share ideas to support homeless youth and families. All agreed the only way to make a change is to start a conversation on the local level.

"We can do things at the national level," said Patricia Popp, the state coordinator for the Project HOPE-Virginia. "I can do things at the state level, but where the rubber hits the ground is when a community wraps itself around a commitment to making a difference."

Homelessness among youth is a major issue the city of Roanoke is addressing.

There were 588 homeless students in Roanoke City Schools at the end of the 2015-2016 school year.

A WSLS 10 and United Way initiative called "RYSE Up Roanoke" raised more than $120,000 earlier this summer to help some of those students and their families.