Congregations Around Richmond Involved To Assure Shelter (CARITAS)

Congregations Around Richmond Involved To Assure Shelter (CARITAS) was organized in the early 1980s to meet a growing demand for homeless shelter during the winter months. Spurred by the closing of many homeless shelters and low-rent hotels in a downtown being “revitalized,” homelessness was increasing. Twenty downtown congregations banded together to offer temporary shelter for single adults in a program known as “Winter Cots.” In December of 1996, CARITAS was given temporary winter use of a building at St. Joseph’s Villa and provided funding from the United Way in order to provide housing for whole families. This support gave birth to the Family Focus program, which moved to the congregational units two years later. The Family Focus program was expanded to serve families year-round, including case management, in 1999. The Single Adult Program was able to expand to year-round services in 2003. In March 2004, CARITAS was given the Homeward Success Award for quality and accountability in homeless services – the first emergency shelter program to win the prestigious award. The interfaith collaboration has grown to 170 congregations representing the city of Richmond and four surrounding counties, with over 20,000 volunteers. Together they provide 27,000 nights of shelter year-round to thousands of individuals. In addition to shelter, congregations provide food, showers, laundry facilities, haircuts, medical screenings, and other services.

Although most guests spend less than a month in the program, the need remains great. Over 95% of guests have incomes below 30% of the median income in the area, yet 65% of those individuals and families receive no government benefits whatsoever. CARITAS is the largest community shelter program in the area, and is also the only emergency shelter program that houses families with fathers and families with more than five members. It is one of just two organizations that allow boys over the age of 12 to be sheltered with their families.

Congregations Around Richmond Involved to Assure Shelter ( CARITAS)
P. O. Box 25790
Richmond , Virginia 23260-5790


Profile prepared by Emily Stevenson
June, 2006