Charity Spotlight: Haven House

Providing emergency housing and support to families with children.

Haven House helps families with children find permanent housing and stability when they are suddenly without. They do this by giving families a temporary home while providing essential life skills and the assistance they need to regain their self-sufficiency.

In this charity spotlight, I spoke with the Executive Director of Haven House, Angie Mayeaux.

Origin Story

Amid the early 1980s recession, Michigan was hit especially hard with high unemployment. By September 1982, unemployment in Michigan reached 14.5%, the highest in the nation.

This high unemployment caused an abrupt increase in the number of people unable to afford homes and food for their families. Members of the Lansing community saw the need for a family shelter and responded by creating one.

For several years, the shelter partnered with St. John Student Parish to offer short-term housing and food to families with or without children. In 1985, the shelter moved to a new location in East Lansing and narrowed their focus to families with children.

Today, Haven House continues to serve families in the Lansing area by providing emergency housing while developing each family’s self-sufficiency.

Today

Many of the families that Haven House helps are homeless for the first time. They know how to make ends meet, but are in a time of crisis and need a little support to regain their stability.

Haven House provides this support to one- and two-parent families with children. Up to ten families are welcomed into the house. During their stay, families receive basic needs and life skills training while looking for permanent housing.

While at Haven House, families are responsible for finding their own permanent housing. Staff members hold daily check-ins to keep families on track and offer assistance when necessary. Residents are also expected to help with household chores during their stay.

Once a family finds a new home, Haven House follows up with the family for up to a year. Non-food stamp items and other assistance are offered to the family during this critical period while they regain their self-sufficiency.

Angie compares Haven House’s approach to a “gentle hug while being nudged out the door.”

Big Wins

Haven House’s rapid rehousing approach has been very successful. More than 91% of the families that find housing with Haven House’s support remain in their new home for more than a year!

Angie also described how recent changes at the house have improved what they do. They reconfigured the house to offer staff and tenants more privacy and put the kids’ playroom in a more accessible location. Volunteers have also eliminated the need for a paid cook, freeing that money to be used elsewhere.

Goals

The staff at Haven House have noticed that when they are able to pay for a family’s first month of rent, it cuts anywhere from ten to twenty days off the family’s stay at Haven House. When the average duration of a family’s stay drops by that much, Haven House has been able to help up to 50% more families.

Establishing an endowment to make that first month’s rent a permanent fixture of Haven House would help keep a lot more children out of shelters each year. This is a very desirable goal for the organization!

For Nonprofits

The first time you do fundraising for a nonprofit, you might be shy about asking too much or too often of your donors. Angie says that’s okay, but it is important to ask. Donors don’t know when your support is needed unless you ask. It’s also very important to thank them afterward.

When you communicate with your supporters, make sure your message is clear. Set their expectations appropriately. If you’re worried that your message is too big or different, ease into it. You don’t have to do it all at once. Your supporters will appreciate that.

For Donors

Many nonprofits are as busy in July as they are in December and in need of just as much support. Holiday giving is wonderful, but if you can, consider donating throughout the year. Your year-round donations can help an organization like Haven House keep kids from having to sleep in a car all year long.

Get Involved

If you want to learn more about Haven House, you can reach them by clicking one of the buttons below.

Photographs courtesy of Haven House.