The Problem:

At any moment a person can find themselves without a home and in need of emergency shelter. The loss of a job, an illness, or a car repair can quickly create a financial crisis. In fact, 40% of Americans don’t have the savings to cover an unexpected $400 expense, according to Federal Reserve data released in 2018. Here in Richmond, more than 51,000 people had incomes below the poverty level in 2017. They need somewhere to turn during a crisis.

Compounding these challenges, affordable housing is hard to come by. A recent report by the National Low-Income Housing Coalition noted that only 40 dwellings were available for every 100 people who required low-income housing. That is true here in Virginia, where the Commonwealth ranks 13th in the country for high housing costsThe lack of affordable housing has a dual effect: it pushes more people into homelessness, while also making it more difficult to help people exit into housing.   

In addition, mental health is a common challenge unsheltered men and women face. It is especially prevalent for women. According to the California Policy Lab October 2019 report, 50% of unsheltered people reported that mental health contributed to their loss of housing. Significant numbers reported that abuse and trauma led to a loss of housing. Those numbers are higher among women.

The Solution

CARITAS is here. We have friends who are helping, too. 

We’re part of a coordinated system called the Greater Richmond Continuum of Care that includes street outreach, diversion, emergency shelter, financial housing supports like rapid re-housing, permanent supportive housing, and data measurement. Our partners include organizations like Homeward, Housing Families First, HomeAgain, Virginia Supportive Housing, and the Salvation Army.

At CARITAS, we’re home to the largest adult emergency shelter in the area, providing 50% of the beds to men and women experiencing homelessness. For more than 30 years, our low-barrier shelter has served the hardest-to-house clients in our region. The hard work of volunteers, case managers, and partner agencies help our shelter guests find not only the necessities for survival, but the tools for success. Guests get the help they need to get off the street, back on their feet, and on the path to self-sufficiency.

Our Success

Our goal is to offer our neighbors a safe bridge between a moment of crisis and a pathway to self-sufficiency. Through our case management in the CARITAS Shelter, we see the following positive results: 

  • We offer 31,390 nights of emergency shelter. 
  • 1,970 adults found a safe place in our emergency shelter last year. 
  • Case managers help residents resolve their crisis in other ways during their time staying in our shelter: During a six-month period, 
    • 32 obtained employment
    • 30 successfully applied for Medicaid
    • 25 scheduled mental health service appointments
    • 15 successfully applied for SNAP benefits
    • 17 successfully applied for Social Security Insurance


Contact Jenn Patterson, Women’s Emergency Shelter Case Manager, at (804) 887-1598.

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