During the month of February 2001, the Virginia Tech Center for Housing Research and participating social service providers joined forces to count the rural homeless population in Virginia.  The Virginia Housing Study Commission, the Virginia Interagency Action Council (VIACH) for the Homeless, and the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (VDHCD) commissioned the Virginia Survey of Rural Homeless in response to House Joint Resolution 257 requesting a study of the number and needs of homeless people living in rural areas of the Commonwealth.
Representatives of the Housing Study Commission, VIACH, VDHCD, and the Center formed a Steering Committee for the survey. The Steering Committee defined “rural” as the nonmetropolitan jurisdictions of Virginia (as established by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget in 1998).  Non-metropolitan jurisdictions were further categorized into four regions: Southwest, Shenandoah, Southside, and Northern Neck/Eastern Shore (Map 1).