The Philip Morris Blended Leaf Plant is a former industrial building that was originally a stemmery that supported the mass production of cigarettes. Originally constructed in the late 1950s, the facility was part of an ambitious plan of expansion initiated in the 1950s by the Philip Morris Company. The plant was the epicenter of the Philip Morris Blended Leaf Complex historic district, listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2017, until 2011, when the factory was decommissioned and fell into disrepair.
Once complete, the warehouse will become the new headquarters for Congregations Around Richmond to Assure Shelter (CARITAS), a center of support and recovery for those experiencing homelessness and battling addiction or substance use disorders. CARITAS was founded in 1987 to provide effective, permanent solutions to individuals and families dealing with the crisis of homelessness and/or substance use disorders in the Metro Richmond area. It has a strong history of continued growth and successful fundraising to support its programs which include CARITAS Shelter, CARITAS Furniture Bank, CARITAS Works, and The Healing Place. Their new facility will allow the organization to greatly expand the capabilities of their existing services, while also creating new programs to more effectively serve their community.
Economic and Community Impact
By co-locating the various programs CARITAS supports, the organization will save over $350,000 on an annual basis, which it can use to further develop new and existing services. The project will allow CARITAS to expand their Healing Place program to include services specifically dedicated to supporting women in need. The furniture bank supports nearly 1,000 families each year by providing those transitioning to permanent housing with low/no-cost furniture. Through the CARITAS Shelter program, the revitalized space will add 40 sober living units and 7 transition units for program graduates and community members. CARITAS will no longer need to carry an $86k/year expense for 9 apartments and 2 houses that it master leases for men alumni and transition clients.
CARITAS anticipates 57 permanent fulltime positions will be located at the Project with 14 of these created as a result of the expansion into this space. Approximately 70% of the newly created jobs will be accessible to LIPs or residents of LICs. All new job opportunities for the Women’s Healing Place program will be made available to members of the surrounding community, which is largely a low-income area with a predominant minority population.