To provide supportive sober housing to psychiatrically disabled Veterans, who would otherwise be homeless, and to provide program participants with information and advocacy to access existing service programs. The goal for program participants is to maintain stable housing.
Our Veterans’ supportive housing program was privately established in 1989, as a memorial, to Stanley J. Egan. Stanley, a cousin of the organization’s founders, was killed in action in Vietnam in 1969.
In 1990, the founders purchased an 1847 Jacob Cohen Mansard Victorian in downtown Lynn (Pictured Above) to serve as the home base for the program. This 18-room home was then restored, including new plumbing and electrical systems and opened serving three formerly homeless Veterans. Today, that house, the Main Residence, serves ten veterans in a group home setting.
Within the first two years of operation, a number of the Veterans had stabilized and needed a less restrictive, yet, still supportive housing option. As a result, in 1992, the founders purchased an abandoned legal five-family apartment building located next door to the group home. After of extensive renovations, including replacing the roof, plumbing, safety systems, painting, and furnishings, this additional building was then opened as a step-up Cooperative Apartment Program, now serving up to four veterans.
In 1995, after establishing a sound foundation and proven track record, the founders of the organization obtained non-profit status for the agency, now known, as Habitat P.L.U.S., Inc. (HP). This enabled the organization to continue its mission-driven programs and pursue additional funding sources for the Veterans’ programs. HP currently offers two housing options.
Nearly 30 years ago we set out to address the shameful fact that many of our disabled troops were returning “home” to find that they had no home. No place for those who served and paid a high price for all of us. And they are still paying. We set out to try and change our little corner of the world, by establishing a home where veterans with common challenges could support one another. Years later the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans did a study and documented facts that we instinctively knew and have been putting into practice since 1989. Some of those facts/findings:
“The most effective programs for homeless and at-risk veterans are community-based, nonprofit, “veterans helping veterans” groups. Programs that seem to work best feature transitional housing with the camaraderie of living in structured, substance-free environments with fellow veterans who are succeeding at bettering themselves.”
While HP was at the forefront of this groundbreaking model, programs such as these are expensive to provide. Our veterans are also aging, and like all of us, as we age, they need even more assistance. The cost of serving them rises with every year, yet the state funding we receive represents only 39% of our budget…HP must raise the remaining 61% on our own. We must do this while effectively running a hotel, restaurant and social service center for 14 Seriously Mentally Ill Veterans 365 days a year. We do this with only 3 full-time staff and 3-part-time staff.
According to the Association for Behavioral Care website, “For 20 years (1987-2007) there had not been a statewide adjustment to the rates of reimbursement paid by the commonwealth to human service providers for their services. Providers were not being reimbursed for their actual costs to administer their programs, including such items as employee salaries, rent, heat, fuel and health insurance costs.” It also states, “As of January 1, 2014, only 37.3 % of the system is being paid rates established under the law! The legal mandate and legislative intent of Chapter 257 have not been met.”
So, won’t you please take a moment to give whatever you can to help us continue to take care of these deserving American patriots?
Government money, while important, is limited, and available services are often at capacity. It is critical, therefore, those community groups reach out to help provide the support, resources and opportunities that most Americans take for granted: housing, employment and health care.