Richmond cold weather shelters open 24/7 during cold snap

Published: Feb. 5, 2023 at 8:45 AM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) -As the cold continues to move through the region, the city of Richmond is expanding the service of its cold weather shelters with all three sites staying open 24/7 through Sunday. The city will have three of its four sites open.

The women’s and children’s shelter is located at RVA Sisters Keeper off Hull Street, the men’s shelter is at United Nations Church, and the men’s and women’s shelter is hosted by Commonwealth Catholic Charities on Chamberlayne Avenue.

“We know that when the temperature drops at these levels that we may see an increase in the number of people seeking shelter and so that’s why it’s absolutely critical for us to flex our capacity,” explained Richmond city councilor Stephanie Lynch.

The three shelters combined have the capacity for 160 beds but some say that’s not enough.

“We still found people out in tents in little encampments...because the shelters were already at capacity,” said Tracey Hardney-Scott, the city of Richmond NAACP housing chair.

The city still hasn’t managed to open it’s fourth shelter site at all this winter season. That shelter, located at Fifth Street Baptist Church has renovations to complete as listed in their contract before they can open, according to the city. However, city officials previously said it was a zoning issue that was keeping the shelter closed.

“The shelters close April 15th and so they have not opened yet so even if they open in March they’re only going to be providing a service from March till the second week of April that just logically does not make sense to us as to why we have not looked for another entity,” explained Hardney-Scott.

This comes as the city opened up its third shelter, run by Commonwealth Catholic Charities, nearly 2 months later than it said it would. The problems with opening up shelters on-time this winter season has city government leaders looking ahead to how this issue can be avoided next winter.

“Certainly the city has made a substantial investment in these scattered sites I kind of see it more as they will become additional spokes with perhaps Commonwealth Catholic Charities being the hub,” Lynch stated.

The city of Richmond says it does not have an exact date for when the Fifth Street Baptist Church shelter will be open but they do expect it to be open this year.