All posts by Friendship House

Friendship House is now statewide!

Friendship House is excited to announce that our Empowerment Program has moved into Kent County. Our Case Management Services are now also available statewide! This is thanks to a partnership with Code Purple Kent County Delaware.

Our Empowerment Program services include clothing referrals, financial assistance for birth certificates, transportation, IDs and medical expenses, access to computer, phone, and PO box, and funds holding Escrow account.

Our program is located at the Code Purple Site – People’s Community Center (46 S Bradford St, Dover, DE 19904). We are there on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8 am – 3 pm. 

Anyone looking to volunteer or donate items to support our program should contact volunteer@friendshiphousede.org.

Contact: (302) 416-2343

Helpline: (302) 482-2271

FH is Determined to Step In and Help

Friendship House (FH) has always been known as an organization capable of filling gaps in services quickly and efficiently for those experiencing homelessness or houselessness since our inception in 1987. Over the past two and a half years, we have played a more critical role as filling gaps turned into responding to crises with an increased level of efficiency, quickness, and love. Today, that is no different as we turn our attention to a new crisis hitting our state.

How has FH responded to crises over the past two and a half years?

Immediately after the COVID-19 pandemic caused Delaware to close down in defense against COVID-19 in March 2020, we found funding to put people into hotels who would otherwise be too vulnerable living on the streets. We did this for three months as we brought meals and case management to them. Knowing it was financially unsustainable for FH, we were able to move all of our guests who were in hotels over to the state service centers motel voucher program while we maintained relational case management.

As winter 2020 approached, the next crisis was figuring out how to offer our Code Purple programming during a pandemic. Hitting various barriers and unsure of how we could solve this problem, New Castle County invited us to be part of their new Hope Center in December 2020 to offer emergency shelter for folks needing this type of program. After 14 months of powerful partnership at the NCC Hope Center and creating a strong program, we knew it was time to move on and begin looking at other needs in our community. Fortunately, we were ready for the next crisis: a desperate need for financial assistance in our community. Our community started to feel the pressure of COVID-19 financially as people started to lose their jobs due downsizing, illnesses, or even childcare concerns. The result was a double in our Financial Assistance program spending.

In 2021, Hurricane Ida hit Wilmington especially hard and took homes from people instantaneously. Friendship House immediately stepped in and asked “how can we help?” With the support of our community, we raised funding and began offering emergency services such as finding temporary shelter, transportation, paying for application fees, providing clothing, diapers, and more. When this happened we decided it was time to officially declare FH needed a crisis intervention fund. This started in September 2021. Unfortunately, it needed to be implemented in May of 2022 as the next crisis hit Wilmington when several apartments on Adams Street were condemned overnight due to severe neglect by the landlord. Many people were instantly houseless. We used our Crisis Intervention fund to step in and do what we have been doing for the past two years: filling the gaps.

How is FH responding again?

The current crisis is the loss of American Rescue Plan pandemic state funding which could result in hundreds of households becoming houselessness late September 2022 (originally August 31, but they were granted a 30-day extension). These households have been able to stay in motels long-term in order to sustain housing through the COVID-19 pandemic. This funding alleviated pressure on shelters and programs as houselessness has increased during the pandemic and kept many very vulnerable people safe. The challenge this presented, however, is these folks got stuck in this situation because there was no space in shelters or programs, and available housing they can afford has been incredibly limited. 

As the funding is ending the lack of available places for these people to go remains an issue. The pressure of losing their housing will encourage some to take their last resort options such as moving in with family or moving out of state. Unfortunately, though, many people will move out without anywhere to go. FH is helping by partnering with our State Service Centers and coordinating efforts with human services agencies statewide to provide additional love and support for each person transitioning out of their current shelter situation. 

What can you do?

Advocate. Please reach out to your local Delaware Representatives to share your concern about the lack of affordable housing available to folks who have little to no income. To find your representative, go here: https://legis.delaware.gov/FindMyLegislator

Donate. FH needs your help so we can provide critical services to these individuals. We need funding to help people transition out of motels into shelters or for those who do not have a shelter or home to go in hopes of making it a softer exit. We want to be available to help families who are starting school, seeking different employment, and overcoming any barrier that has been in their way. We also need to grow our staff in order to meet these needs statewide. 

Checks can be made payable to Friendship House with ‘Crisis Fund’ in the memo and sent to PO Box 1517 Wilmington, DE 19899. For online donations, please click here.

Thank you for your consideration and please reach out should you have any questions or desire to learn more.

Article featuring our Executive Director, Kim Eppehimer, which share’s about the emergency funds ending (for subscribers only): As pandemic funds dry up, hundreds face homelessness when motel vouchers expire Aug. 31

Article announcing the ARP funding ending at the end of the month: Pandemic emergency shelter program will run out of funding by end of month

New Housing Program

This year, FH will launch an additional housing program specifically for women who work at the Clothing Bank Creating Excellent Outcomes (CEO) Training Program and are exiting incarceration. Our Transitional Housing staff have been working hard to build this new housing program to support women like Diamond.

The program will provide housing, comprehensive case management, access to wraparound services, and a supportive, nurturing, and empowering environment. Receiving behavioral health services, attending intensive outpatient treatment programs, and fulfilling court-ordered obligations like Probation and Parole will be supported and emphasized. The program will be a precursor to our Women’s Transitional Housing Program. When the women are ready and if it’s a good fit, they can progress to our existing program to continue their pathway to self-sufficiency. FH plans to purchase an additional house specifically for this new program.

The women will remain employed at the Clothing Bank – a loving, supportive space providing flexibility with work schedules. Eventually, through our CEO Training Program, we will help them find meaningful, long-term employment. With this new housing program, we know we can provide a place Diamond and others like her can truly call home.

Diamond’s Story

Diamond came to our Clothing Bank Creating Excellent Outcomes (CEO) Training Program from Hazel D. Plant Women’s Treatment Facility’s Work Release Program in May of 2022. At 40 years of age, she has been incarcerated for more than half of her adult life. Most recently she has completed a 10-year sentence. When she started at the Clothing Bank, she expressed a desire to make a change in her life and not repeat her past mistakes. She has set goals of obtaining a full-time position and renting a place of her own. She has proven to be a hard worker, greeting everyone with a smile, and has shown a lot of potential. As we counted down the days until her release from incarceration in June, we braced ourselves for the hardship we knew she was about to face as many women before Diamond have experienced.

The four weeks since Diamond’s release have been filled with challenges. Her only option right now is to live with her family in an apartment in Wilmington, the same area that exposed her to the people, places, and things that started her cycle of incarceration. She wants to save money to get a place of her own, but right now she works two jobs simply to pay her share of the rent. She works at the Clothing Bank during the day, and at a fast-food restaurant most evenings. Diamond also has to attend Probation, TASC, and After-Care appointments. These obligations are scheduled on two different days, in three different places weekly.

After 10 years of incarceration, Diamond is learning how to use a cell phone and ‘simple’ things like setting an alarm and figuring out the bus schedule. Our staff are assisting her with applying for food stamps and Medicaid, finding a primary care doctor, and arranging mental health services. For the past 10 years, these resources were provided through her sentence. When she was released from incarceration she was given a supply of medication to address her long-term mental health condition which unfortunately ran out before she could get approved for Medicaid. She was not able to get an appointment with a primary care doctor for a month. “I was stuck in a situation where I couldn’t get my mental health meds, so I eventually fell into a depression”, she says. After a week without medication, Diamond ended up in the E.R. This eventually led to admission to a mental health crisis center. She was stabilized after a few days and returned to work.

Diamond’s physical, mental, and financial well-being have all suffered. Despite her best attempts, she keeps missing days from work at the Clothing Bank. Diamond says, “The Clothing Bank staff are very patient with me and my situation. If I worked somewhere else, I probably would be fired. It’s been a rough road for me to be successful after incarceration.” She is trying very hard to keep a positive outlook, however, it’s clear she is overwhelmed and exhausted.

Diamond’s story is not unusual. The details vary from woman to woman, but the general theme remains the same: without a loving, supportive community and a stable place to live, women released from incarceration with goals and dreams to turn over a new leaf too often struggle with the re-entry process. Their past, home life, and financial barriers make this change feel impossible and their hope and drive are quickly lost.

FH is committed to filling the gaps for women like Diamond. To learn more about our plan to provide programming and additional housing for women like Diamond, please read about our New Housing Program highlight.

Creating Excellent Outcomes (CEO) Training Program

Our Clothing Bank’s Creating Excellent Outcomes (CEO) Training Program provides a wage-paying opportunity, a life skills and job training program, and a loving, supportive community for women committed to making a positive change in their lives. We employ women from our Transitional Housing Program or the Hazel D. Plant Women’s Treatment Facility Work Release Program. Our program is woman-centered at its core, with a focus on the unique needs, concerns, and lived experiences of the participants. Women can stay in our program for as long as they need; the average is about 4-5 months. The goal of the program is for the women to find meaningful, long-term employment that will allow them to remain self-sufficient.

The women in our program from the Hazel D. Plant Women’s Treatment Facility often transition from Baylor Women’s Correctional Institute; these facilities are on the same campus and the Work Release is the final stage of their sentence. The Work Release places women in our CEO program and they remain in our program during their release from incarceration. There are mountains of obstacles and barriers that often make the transition after release very challenging.

Please read Diamond’s story for one woman’s experience after incarceration and our New Housing Program highlight to learn more about our plan to further help women like Diamond.

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