Thursday, September 27, 2018

Mayor Announces New Location for 2018 - 2019 Cold Weather Overflow Shelter

Working with the City of Richmond’s Department of Social Services, Mayor Levar Stoney today announced the City’s 2018 - 2019 Cold Weather Overflow Shelter will operate from the Conrad Center, 1400 Oliver Hill Way.

“Allowing some of our most vulnerable residents to spend another winter in the deplorable conditions of the old Public Safety Building is unacceptable,” said Mayor Stoney. “That is why the City of Richmond will step up and relocate programs and services to a more suitable and accommodating city building as a temporary solution to provide safety and warmth this winter.

“The ultimate long-term goal is to find permanent, suitable housing for all of our citizens year-round, so that we don’t have to have this same challenge every year,” the mayor continued. “That is why I am pleased to support Councilwoman Robertson’s ordinance that would require the city to develop a strategic plan to address homelessness.”

The City of Richmond has previously operated the cold weather shelter at the city’s Public Safety Building, 501 N. 9th Street, to help prevent the possibility of hypothermia of citizens during extremely cold weather, when wind chill or temperature forecasts reach or drop below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, from October 1 through April 15. The Conrad Center, which is currently being used by the Office of Community Wealth Building (CWB), will have suitable restrooms, reliable heat and enough sleeping space to accommodate 150 to 175 persons. During the coming winter season, CWB services will transfer to the East District Initiative, located at 701 N. 25th Street.

“In an ideal scenario, we would have an organization or a ministry that would have been able to step up and commit to providing shelter from the extreme cold for people during the winter months, and that organization or ministry would have access to a site in a neighborhood filled with residents who embraced the opportunity to help people in need,” said Reggie Gordon, Interim DCAO for Human Services. “That did not happen. Therefore, the city will step up with the Conrad Center and we will rely on the existing shelter providers in the homeless services system, hoping that they, too, will be able to expand their bed space on the coldest nights.”

Gordon said citizens should make plans now for the cold weather or take advantage of existing bed space in the homeless services system, so they will not have to rely upon the Cold Weather Overflow Shelter, which should be used as a last resort.

Additional Information:
Single adults needing overnight shelter are to call the Housing Crisis Line at (804) 972-0813 for a referral to the appropriate shelter. Single adults residing in the City of Richmond who are not eligible for existing shelter or are advised all available beds have been filled, should report to Commonwealth Catholic Charities (511 West Grace Street) to receive a referral to the Cold Weather Overflow Shelter.

Individuals seeking access to the Overflow Shelter must have a referral. Food will not be provided and pets are not allowed.

The Department of Social Services provides emergency assistance with gas and electric disconnection notices for City residents who qualify. Residents may also call the Fuel Line at (804) 646-7046.

The elderly or residents with disabilities should contact Senior Connections for assistance at (804) 343-3000, Monday through Friday; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The Office of Community Wealth Building Career Center services, previously offered at the Conrad Center will now be available at the East District Initiative, located at 701 North 25th Street.

Limited client services provided by the Department of Social Services at the East District Initiative will now be available at Marshall Plaza, located at 900 East Marshall Street.


Monroe Park Officially Reopened September 27

Monroe Park, one of Richmond’s oldest and most historic parks and public spaces, reopened on Thursday, September 27, 2018. 
Richmond Mayor Levar M. Stoney, VCU President Michael Rao, Monroe Park Conservancy President Alice Massie and other representatives from the city, VCU and the community participated in the ceremony. 
“Monroe Park is our Central Park,” said Mayor Stoney. “It is again a cultural, urban oasis, made possible thanks to the unique partnership between the city, VCU and Monroe Park Conservancy. The hard work and dedication put into the restoration of this welcoming greenspace will ensure this park provides respite, relaxation and enjoyment to city residents and visitors for years to come.” 
“Everyone at VCU will benefit from this magnificently restored Monroe Park, which now includes the necessary infrastructure to meet the needs of our 21st century community,” said VCU President Michael Rao. “Generations of Richmonders have used and loved this park, including VCU faculty, staff, students and alumni. For many, it has been part of their educational experience. It has been a pleasure to collaborate with the Monroe Park Conservancy and City of Richmond to restore this park.” 
This progressive collaboration has resulted in the first comprehensive renovation of Monroe Park since its creation in 1851. The conservancy, a coalition of representatives from the city, VCU and the community raised $3M for the renovation. 
This was matched by a $3 million grant from the city to complete the funding for the $6 million first phase of the renovation. The Monroe Park Conservancy has a 30-year lease with the city to operate and manage the park in cooperation with the city’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities. 
“The Monroe Park Conservancy is extremely excited to complete this first phase of construction; we look forward to the park’s future,” says Alice Massie. “Please visit this beautiful green living room. Bring a picnic, do some homework, exercise, enjoy the noise of the fountain, play ping-pong or bocce right here in the middle of the city.” 

The park was closed for this renovation in November 2016. The project was originally expected to take 12 – 18 months, but the construction schedule was delayed because of harsh weather last winter and unprecedented rainfall this year. 
Safety and security in the park will be shared by the Richmond and VCU Police Departments. A police substation, to be used by both RPD and VCUPD, has been installed in the Checkers House in the park. Security cameras have also been installed throughout the park.

In addition to the improved safety features, the renovation also includes: 
  • A complete restoration of the 1906 fountain, improvements to the railings and basin and a modernization of the water filtration system;
  • 132 new trees, more than doubling the tree count from the 2008 master plan;
  • More than 13,000 new plants and shrubs;
  • A .56 mile bioretention system around the perimeter to retain water runoff;
  • Permeable pavers at each entryway and around the fountain, with the capacity to store 
    and filter more than 25,000 cubic feet of storm water; 
  • 68 new low-energy usage LED pedestrian lights;
  • A ping pong table and game areas to include bocce, petanque and quoits
  • 20 tables and 80 chairs, all moveable;
  • Proximity to the Dominion Energy pavilion across from the Altria Theater and flexible event space for weddings, small musical performances and other activities. 
Monroe Park will be open dawn to dusk. For more information about the park, how to reserve space and other rules and regulations, please visit the conservancy website at

Alice Massie:             (804) 516-3233  |
Jim Nolan:                 (804) 646-3110  |
Mike Porter:               (804) 828-7037  |