Homelessness was already an increasing pre-pandemic societal problem, but the implications of unemployment exacerbated by COVID-19 only served to compound the layered complexities of the issue.
Yet in the Greater Lansing region, Haven House has worked for nearly 40 years to provide families with emergency shelter in their most desperate times of need and provide the support to rebound from crises.
Haven House originally opened in 1983 as an economic crisis center. Over the years, the East Lansing facility transitioned to serve one- and two-parent families. Haven House is focused on allowing male parents and/or teenage boys to stay with their families.
“We are the only other shelter in town that allows the male, whether that’s a teenage son or adult parent, to stay sheltered with the family,” said Amber Stairs, development director for Haven House. “So, we really try to focus on filling that niche in the community.”
In such a traumatic time as facing homelessness, it can be just as difficult for fathers and even young teenage boys to not be allowed to shelter with their families. Haven House wants to be able to keep that strong family structure together and fill that gap in the community.
Haven House not only shelters people and families, but it works with them in their times of need to find a way toward their goals, whether that’s self-sufficiency or permanent housing. The organization takes a wraparound approach to help support the people in their care. But that support does not stop after clients leave Haven House.
“We continue to help support people through our partners and progress programs,” said Stairs. “Even when people have that house, they still need essential things like personal hygiene products or pots and pans to cook with — things that some people may take for granted.”
Even through the coronavirus, Haven House has been working with people and sheltering, even though it has been remote sheltering through hotels. In July, Haven House began welcoming people back to its facilities along with newly restructured shelters. Instead of gender-specific bathrooms, Haven House now has family-specific bathrooms, which will reduce the risk of communicable diseases in the future.
If you need the help and support of Haven House, or want to help through volunteering or a donation, visit havenhouseel.org.