Homeless Hotel

Homeless Hotel (Photo credit: quinet)

I found a program online that works with homeless men to give housing and support increasing their abilities to live independently. The Way Home President J.P. Richardson responded to an email I sent asking for some insight into the organization’s success. The following are excerpts from  his reply.This is an interesting look at one solution that is helping to end homelessness for some people.

 From: J.P. Richardson
Sent: Monday, March 18, 2013 8:00 PM
To: Donna Reeves
Subject: The Way Home

I am excited to share with you about the effectiveness of the model which The Way Home has developed. I would like to begin by explaining a little about how we started and who our clientele includes. In early 2011 a group of concerned citizens, not for profit representatives, and County officials met to discuss the pending eviction of a local homeless encampment that housed about twenty individuals…

…That group eventually became The Way Home in August 2011 …individuals housed through the initiative drew a drastically lowered cost of housing and services as their reliance on hospitalization, jails, and rehab centers decreased dramatically. This was largely due to the apparent lift in self concept that resulted from the lack of rules surrounding the housing that was offered. The idea was simply to require that individuals pay their rent and cooperate with their roommates. It did not list sobriety as a requirement to secure housing…
…While every homeless individual has their own story and many have different reasons for ending up in the situation in which they find themselves, drugs and alcohol do play a significant roll..

..After much discussion, we created The Way Home Model. In our model, tenants are required first and foremost to pay their rent and to be cooperative roommates. The house is a clean house which means that there is no alcohol or drugs allowed on the property. Tenants are encouraged to seek sobriety but are allowed to consume alcohol off the property as long as it does not interfere with the good nature of the relationship of the individual with his house mates. Drugs are not permitted and random drug screenings are part of the program…

…We opened our first home in June 2012 with five residents of dramatically different backgrounds and ranging from 29 years old to 62 years old. After one month the men were adapting to community living within the scope of their new neighborhood at different rates. One individual got drunk one night, assaulted his roommate, and fled from the house. When we located him several days later we served him with an official letter from The Way Home banning him from the property and removing him from the program. It also gave him some contact information for alcohol abuse counseling services which he chose not to call. Several weeks later he was arrested and incarcerated. The other four individuals continued to adapt well to their new surroundings. After two months, we located a fifth man to join the home, and he quickly adapted to his surroundings and his house mates…

…In September, after 90 days had been completed, it was clear that the men were showing obvious signs of change. The did not act or talk like they had when they first moved into the home. Their alcohol use was decreasing and they began taking pride in the appearance of the property. When 2012 drew to a close, all five men had shown dramatic improvement in their personal self concepts. Most had found jobs, all were getting along with each other quite well, two men were able to renew their drivers licenses, and they had all began setting goals for their futures — both short and long term.
Today all five men remain in the program while two are considering moving on and securing their own rental properties. One man is shopping for a van so that he can open an antiques dealing business which is what he had done before becoming homeless. Self esteem is a powerful factor which plays a major role in most abusive situations. When fostered and sheltered intentionally, self esteem has the power to heal and renew not just destroy lives.
Now 9 months into the program, I am amazed daily at the change in the lives of the men we house. While group therapy and life skills play a vital role in changing lives for the better, it has become quite clear to me that nothing we do can overshadow the importance of a healthy self concept. Our words and our rules and program all tell our tenants that they are worthy of a good life and that there is value in their individual lives. This is the message of love that Jesus came to teach. This is the mission that was handed down to the Church by the Apostles. We all once filthy rags until Jesus washed us white as snow. God’s love can conquer the most corrupt and wounded hearts, and in my experience He completes this through drastic changes in self concept made possible only by His touch.
I hope that this has helped in your research…

In Christian Service,

James Richardson
The Way Home


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