With far fewer shelter beds than the number of unsheltered neighbors who need them, weather hazards resulting from winter snow storms & freezing temperatures, severe thunderstorms, and hurricanes  create dangerous, and often life-threatening situations for the hundreds of neighbors living unsheltered in the Richmond area. The City of Richmond opens a Cold Weather Overflow Shelter when temperatures drop below 40 degrees and sometimes during dangerous weather events. But accessing it for most of those we serve is nearly impossible due to their distance from the shelter. For many of them, the nearest bus stop is over two miles away, and the shelter is over seven miles away from most of their camps. Very few are able to make that trek.

Our Emergency Shelter Program is our most critical and second most costly program of our entire operation. The three components of our Emergency Shelter Program are Emergency Motel Shelter, Dignity Stays, and Room in the Inn. 

  • Emergency Motel Shelter provides stays in motels for our chronically homeless neighbors during dangerous weather, such as hurricanes, snow storms, and when overnight temperatures drop below 30º or daytime temperatures rise above 100º. It also serves as a vital safety net for those struggling to survive their first few nights of homelessness, while we attempt to connect them with shelter and housing resources.
  • Dignity Stays provides one night in a motel room as a brief respite from life outdoors for our chronically homeless neighbors who have gone several weeks without a shower and a bed in which to sleep.
  • Room in the Inn provides our homeless neighbors a room in a motel for Christmas Eve and Christmas Night. We also provide bus passes to enable them to get from camp to motel and then back to camp, as well as fast food gift cards. Nobody should have to sleep outside on Christmas Eve and Christmas Night. In 2019, we met our goal of providing 100 homeless neighbors with a Room in the Inn.

We have established relationships with eleven motels spanning our service area that provide discounted nightly room rates and weekly rates. Eight of these motels accept our reservation by phone and check our friends into their rooms without our signature. This allows us to respond quickly to sudden weather events requiring Emergency Motel Stays for dozens of people at a time, without having to visit every motel during a storm.