March Newsletter: Anniversary of Housing

In March we sent a newsletter celebrating our Transitional Housing. You can see it in its entirety by clicking here.

Our Transitional Housing program started 25 years ago on Ash Wednesday when Friendship House and Westminster Presbyterian Church joined together to open Burton House, one of the earliest transitional housing programs in New Castle County. Burton House wasn’t very impressive – just a two-bedroom apartment above the church garage where employed homeless men could live for free for 90 days while they saved their money and worked their program. It soon became obvious to everyone that the transition from one way of living to another was not that simple.

Burton House

Most homeless folks are dealing with more than just the loss of housing. In a real sense they are displaced persons striving to figure out where they fit and how to rebuild their often broken lives. The transition is not just about a new job or a cheap place to stay. It is the process of healing old wounds, learning new skills and sometimes overcoming one’s personal demons. People on such a journey need a safe, supportive home and a community of like-minded friends.

Learning from our residents, Friendship House has continued to expand and modify its transitional housing program. Today it consists of eleven different sites (six for women and five for men). Residents that complete the full program have received a year of subsidized housing, are able to eliminate a significant portion of their outstanding debt and can save up to $2,500. The most successful graduates also use their time in the program to continue their education, develop new life skills and advance their career.

In the twenty-five years since Burton House first opened its doors, 1,698 residents (999 men/ 697 women) have participated in the Friendship House Transitional Housing Program. Some are now Friendship House staff. Many are our greatest success stories. Others have relapsed or returned to prison or died. Wherever they are on their journey, their lives and ours have been forever changed by our time together.

Bill Perkins
Executive Director and CEO

Meet Madisin: A Housing Graduate

My name is Madisin and I am a recovering alcoholic and drug addict. I was in an inpatient treatment facility when I started to look into the Friendship House Program. It was toward the end of my stay in treatment and I needed to think about what I was going to do when I left and, more importantly, where I was going to live. It was important to find a safe place to continue working on my recovery. After an interview with Friendship House, I was accepted and moved into the first phase on September 22, 2014. Ever since then I have really felt myself grow into a successful young woman.

When I was in my addiction, I didn’t really know how to be responsible. I was very selfish and self-centered. Yes, I knew right from wrong but never wanted to do the right thing. I’ve noticed growth in myself here and there but I really noticed a big change when I celebrated my 21st birthday this year. My mom’s birthday is February 28; my brother’s birthday is March 5; my birthday is March 7. Normally, by February 27, my attitude was, “Forget every one else’s birthday! What are we doing for mine? What presents are you getting me?” I was such a brat. This year, however, I can honestly say that the best present I got was that all of my family said they were proud of me. Yeah, presents are nice but nothing material can compare to the gratitude I have gained. With guidance of the staff here, I was able to regain some structure in my life. I pay my bills on time; I have money in a savings account; I have a full-time job. I do my laundry; I go grocery shopping. My apartment in Phase 3 of this program is clean.

I could go on and on but most important, I’m honest and trustworthy. I know all of these things are “normal” things that young adults should know how to do, but these are all things I never did, nor did I care to do when I was in my addiction. I have grown into a responsible young woman and I am prepared for the transition into the real world and the next chapter of my life. For that, I am eternally grateful.

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