As Abraham Connection, the homeless shelter in Delta, approaches its seasonal closing date of April 30, another option for families in transition celebrated its first anniversary.
Haven House, located between Delta and Olathe, is a faith-based effort to improve the lives of homeless families with children by providing shelter, guidance, counseling and support programs.
"Abraham Connection and Haven House are not redundant in any way," said Larry Fredrickson, a Haven House volunteer. While the Abraham Connection provides emergency housing, Haven House offers longterm transitional housing, with the ultimate goal of helping families move into a self-reliant lifestyle. Families with children have priority, but Haven House also accepts couples and single women from Delta, Montrose and Ouray counties.
The program occupies the building at 4806 North River Road that was formerly known as "The Dormitory" for migrant farm workers. Frederickson said it had not been used for two years when he and fellow volunteers decided it would be a great solution for housing the increasing number of homeless families with children.
"We were able to work out a lease agreement with the owner of the building and are now providing a home to 12 families," he said.
He added that several families have already left Haven House for their own living accommodations, which is the ultimate goal.
"Haven House is the only shelter between Durango and Delta that provides housing for the entire family," Frederickson said. Each family occupies two bedrooms with a shared private bath between the two rooms. Common areas include a living room, kitchen, dining hall, computer room, library and laundry.
Operation is patterned after Joshua's Station in Denver. Larry and his wife Lillian stayed in the homeless shelter for three days before returning home with policies and procedures that gave Haven House a running start. The facility is drug- and alcohol-free, and background checks are conducted before occupancy is allowed.
Each family is tasked with maintaining and supervising utilization of one of the common areas. Recognizing Haven House relies heavily on volunteers, many of those families have also stepped up to help with custodial duties, security and enforcing curfews.
In addition, each family is assigned to a case manager. The two part-time case workers are the only paid staff members at Haven House. Volunteer family advocates serve as a sounding board for each of the families, while one-on-one mentoring is available for every child living at Haven House.
Through these activities, Haven House develops a sense of community among its resident families while developing self-reliant living and strengthening life skills.
Each family does their own grocery shopping and cooks their own meals, following a schedule established for use of the kitchen. Transportation is available to Delta one day a week and to Montrose another day during the week.
"High on our wish list is a small vehicle families can use to get back and forth to work," Frederickson said.