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.
Legend Brewing Company and the Richmond SPCA introduce Bruce’s Bier
Legend Brewing Company introduces Bruce’s Bier, a Bavarian Pilsner that raises funds for the Richmond SPCA.
The newest offering from Legend Brewing Company is a Bavarian Pilsner inspired by the memory of a local family’s dearly departed dog, Bruce, a big dog with an even bigger personality. The beer’s debut on Thursday, April 22 will support the care of homeless pets at the Richmond SPCA.
At the Richmond SPCA’s 22nd Annual Fur Ball on Saturday, November 7, 2020, auction was moved online, but the popularity of Legend Beer Company’s auction package remained. The unique package was first offered in 2019 with the opportunity to work with the brewers at Richmond’s Legend Brewing Company on a limited-release beer to feature the winning bidder’s own pet on the label. This year’s winning bid from the Goddard family resulted in the creation of a Bavarian Pilsner called “Bruce’s Bier” named after the family’s beloved giant dog, Bruce.
Though Bruce sadly passed away from old age in December, the Richmond SPCA, Legend Brewing and the Goddard family proudly join together in celebration of his spirit with a Bavarian Pilsner as light, lively and as crisp as the legend himself.
Bruce’s guardians, Steve and Cheryl Goddard, describe Bruce as a charming dog who brought laughter and fun everywhere he went. “Bruce was a true party animal and a friend to all. We are honored to celebrate him with a delicious and refreshing Legend Brewing pilsner that will help raise critical funds for the homeless pets of the Richmond SPCA,” said Cheryl Goddard.
The pilsner will be available from Legend Brewing Company’s Richmond Brewpub beginning at 11:30 a.m. April 22 [and at the Legend Brewing Depot in Portsmouth starting at 11 a.m. the same day.] Legend Brewing will donate $1 to the Richmond SPCA for every four pack and pint sold from open to close. Outdoor dining and limited indoor dining are available at the Richmond pub with an option for pickup as well.
“In 27 years of being a part of the Richmond community, our long time partnership with the Richmond SPCA is one of our proudest community relationships,” said Dave Gott, Vice President of Legend Brewing Company. “To see the many animals in their care and realize each one is an orphan just waiting for a family to love is heart breaking. There is no way anyone can see these animals and the hope the Richmond SPCA offers and not feel called to action.”
The Goddard’s winning bid of $5,500 for the auction package went to the Richmond SPCA’s Cinderella Fund and is being used to deliver lifesaving veterinary treatment to sick and injured dogs and cats taken into the care of the local nonprofit humane society.
Richmond SPCA Chief Executive Officer Tamsen Kingry said, “Bruce was incredibly fortunate to have a family like the Goddards who gave him the very best care during all the years they were together. It is a fitting legacy that homeless pets will enjoy the same level of care and veterinary treatment in his memory, and we are so grateful to our partners at Legend Brewing for making that possible.”
Update on Forest Hill Widening Proposal from 4th District Councilperson Kristen Larson
Good news if you were anti-widening.
I’ll post Councilperson’s full statement below but here is the part most people are interested in.
The update to the project changes the scale to add dedicated bicycle lanes and sidewalk and remove the widening component. The extent of the project is also changed, moving it west along Forest Hill Avenue to between the Belt Railroad and Powhite Parkway. This update removes the project from consideration as regionally significant and qualifies it as a local project, taking it out of the ConnectRVA 2045 process.
I connected with folks from the Richmond Regional Transportation Planning Organization (RRTPO) yesterday and we discussed the proposed plan for Forest Hill Widening.
Here is some background from RRTPO:
The first phase of our planning process dealt with issues that were experienced in the region related to the transportation system. One of the ways issues were identified was through testing our existing travel network in a travel demand model to see how it would handle future projected traffic. The section of Forest Hill Avenue from 47th to Semmes was identified as becoming congested for automobile and truck traffic by the year 2025.
Knowing there was an identified issue, staff reached out to the city and were asked to plan for a widening in that location from 2-4 lanes, primarily to address expected growth in the corridor over the next twenty years. That project description is what we took forward for inclusion in the Universe of Projects. To clarify, being in this list does not mean there is any commitment to move a project forward or fund it in any way; it only shows which projects will be analyzed for improvement of the network for the community.
Update on project today:
Through the public review process, we have heard overwhelming support for eliminating this project from the Universe of Projects. As a result, was able to have an extended conversation with DPW leadership this week and have received the following request from the City. To clarify the current intent for the Forest Hill Avenue corridor, city staff asked that the project be removed to better support recent planning efforts along the corridor. The update to the project changes the scale to add dedicated bicycle lanes and sidewalk and remove the widening component. The extent of the project is also changed, moving it west along Forest Hill Avenue to between the Belt Railroad and Powhite Parkway. This update removes the project from consideration as regionally significant and qualifies it as a local project, taking it out of the ConnectRVA 2045 process.
As far as next steps, when the public review period closes on Thursday 4/15, staff will summarize public comments received and provide a recommendation to the ConnectRVA 2045 Advisory Committee at their next meeting. The Universe of Projects will then be subjected to the evaluation and scoring process to determine which projects make sense and provide reasonable improvements to the network.
RRTPO is extremely pleased that they were able to work cooperatively with city staff and resolve this concern. This exercise also illustrates a successful planning process, whereby we were able to receive community feedback, hear concerns, and improve the slate of projects. Thank you and your staff for communicating your concerns – we are hopeful that the resolution is satisfactory to all, and we encourage continued involvement as the process moves forward. As a reminder, there will be more opportunities for public engagement as the planning process continues.
Additional opportunities for engagement: If this is helpful, there will be at least two more major milestones in the planning process where people can get involved and provide additional review and feedback. Each of these review periods will be 30 days.
Cost constrained plan review: In mid-summer, the scoring will be completed for each project in the Universe and those scores will be available for public review and feedback. Following that review period, staff will work with the advisory committee to assemble a draft prioritized list of projects to be considered for the cost-constrained plan. This is really when public feedback is helpful and it will be a time when the public can see how each project compares to others and how they really stack up across the region.
Full plan review: Late summer, early fall there will be an opportunity for the public to review the full plan in draft form before it goes into the final review process by our committees and policy board. At this time, the constrained plan will be explained in more detail with text, graphics, interactive mapping, and other formatting that should make the full document easier to navigate.
Thank you to everyone that reached out about this proposal and thanks to Richmond Regional Transportation Planning Organization for hearing from 4th and 5th district residents and working with city staff to find another project.
Abuelita’s Giving Away Food After Winning CBS6 College Basketball Contest
Baylor’s win in that big basketball tournament means you win as well.
Great news for my favorite Mexican restaurant in the area. Details from CBS6.
Baylor’s win meant Abuelita’s won the CBS 6 We’re Open Tournament, sponsored by Maebird Marketing. CBS 6 randomly paired 16 Richmond-area restaurants with the teams playing in the Sweet 16. As each team won on the basketball court, the restaurant advanced.
Prior to the Final Four, Abuelita’s owner Karina Benavides said if Baylor won, she’d use the $1,500 grand prize to thank loyal customers who’ve helped the restaurant stay open during the pandemic.
“It’s just been fun. I love interacting with people on social media. I think this is a really fun activity for Richmond, especially for the restaurants,” she said in an interview with CBS 6 earlier this month. “I’m very excited to give something back to our customers. And they’re helping us to do that.”
Follow Abuelita’s on Instagram to see the rest of the deals this week. Thursday is looking pretty good as they’re upgrading chicos to grandes.