This month, an old tobacco manufacturing plant is becoming a home. Richmond area volunteers and experts are making beds, cleaning floors, and more inside the future home of the CARITAS Center. As a part of the nonprofit’s plan for the space, 47 sober living apartments will welcome men and women transitioning from a crisis and into a stable, sober life.
This is important for a few reasons, according to the nonprofit.
Right now, half a million Americans are homeless. There is only enough affordable housing available for 25% of that population. Experts suggest that number has the potential to swell up to 45 percent before the year is over as a result of widespread unemployment amid the global pandemic.
Additionally, recent data from law enforcement agencies in Richmond, Chesterfield, Hanover and Henrico shows a nearly 60% increase in overdose cases when comparing the first six months of 2019 to the same period this year. Nationally, more than 35 states have reported increases in opioid-related mortality since the pandemic began, according to the American Medical Association (AMA). Reduced access to treatment and recovery services are cited among the reasons for this surge.
Affordable housing can help. People who suffer some substance use disorder make up 64% the homeless population, according to NCH. An affordable and supportive housing community is one of the most important factors to successfully reducing relapse rates.
Richmond-based nonprofit CARITAS has been working to fight the intertwined issues of homelessness and addiction since 1987. Last year alone, the organization served more than 4,000 people and provided 80,720 nights of shelter across its four programs. The addition of a sober living community to its family of programs is an exciting way for the organization to continue innovatively solving some of our country’s most challenging issues.
The nonprofit worked with a local designer Flourish Spaces to bring the concept to life. Every aspect of successful recovery housing and shelter environments have been infused into the final designs. The Flourish Spaces team also took cues from “residential and hospitality spaces as a jumping off point.”
“We didn’t want it to feel institutional,” owner Stevie McFadden said. “We also didn’t want it to feel traditional–there is nothing traditional about this organization. It is innovative.”
When completed, the 150,000 square foot building will feature:
CARITAS: The organization’s administrative offices will be centralized at this site.
The Healing Place for Women: A substance use recovery program available to low-income women in the region, a sister program to the agency’s current program The Healing Place for Men.
47-Sober Living Apartments: For graduate’s transitioning and for qualifying community members.
Furniture Bank: A social enterprise accepting furniture donations and refurbishing them for sale or donation to low-income households.
Emergency Shelter: This new facility will replace the mobile, congregation-based model that has operated in the Richmond region for more than 30 years.
CARITAS Works: A workforce development program for men and women facing significant barriers to employment.
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