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. Here in Richmond, more than 20% of our residents had incomes below the poverty level in 2019. 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 demonstrated that only 36 affordable and available rental homes exist for every 100 people who need it–a number that has only dropped in recent years. The lack of affordable housing has a dual effect: it pushes more people into the homeless services system, while also making it more difficult to help people exit into permanent housing.
The causes of homelessness are blended. Mental illness, poor physical health, substance use, chronic poverty, systematic racism, domestic violence, trauma, and adverse childhood experiences often precede a loss of housing. For example, 84 percent of unsheltered individuals report physical health conditions compared to 19 percent of sheltered individuals, according to California Policy Lab.
CARITAS is here. We have friends who are helping, too.
We’re part of a coordinated system called the Greater Richmond’s 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 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 — they find 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 goal is to offer our neighbors a safe bridge between a moment of crisis and a pathway to self sufficiency. In 2021, we welcomed 338 men and women into our Emergency Shelter for a total of 15,653 nights of shelter. Through our case management in the CARITAS Shelter, helped 85 people transition to stable housing in 2021. Each time we help someone to find a home, it takes nearly 20 hours of work from our team.
Contact Jenn Patterson, Director of Emergency Shelter, at (804) 887-1598.