HOPE was founded in 1998 as a community response to a homeless person freezing to death in downtown Pontiac, Michigan. The need for HOPE was great. In the mid-1990s, a long-standing shelter closed its doors and another shifted its focus to long-term addiction services. This person had nowhere to turn.
As the community came together to explore how they should respond. Their collective wisdom led them to seek a way to protect the lives of people who needed to be sheltered from the cold even when they did not have ID or where not sober.
In the beginning, HOPE operated a seasonal shelter during the coldest months of the year, turning away no one. At first, the rented shelter space inside the Baldwin Center was only available between Christmas and Easter seasons (January to April or March). Guests were given a pillow, a blanket to lay on and another to cover themselves. The hard floor was not comfortable.
Year after year, HOPE saw many of the same people came back to shelter through the coldest months. Something more needed to be done to help resolve the ongoing issues that kept people in need of shelter. Guests need an navigator to help them discover appropriate resources and to work the system through to an appropriate housing solution. HOPE would need a year-round space to address the needs of the people utilizing the shelter.
In 2010, HOPE purchased a foreclosed building across the street- 249 Baldwin. With the help of more than half-a-million dollars of volunteer labor and in-kind donations, the space has been transformed into an effective resource for those experiencing homelessness. From 2011 to 2014, HOPE expanded services to cover the cold months of the year. By 2014, the shelter was prepared to operation year-round.
In 2015, HOPE acquired the vacant lots adjacent to the shelter property. This lot will someday house a Family Shelter and Community Resource Center.
In 2016, HOPE opened the Recuperative Care Center – giving people experiencing homelessness a place to recover when discharged from an in-patient hospitalization. An Oakland University study concluded that the HOPE Recuperative Care Center saved local hospitals more than $160,000 in the first 2 months of operation. Local hospitals concur and continue to support the venture.
Shelters in Michigan are compared to each other to assess effectiveness. HOPE engages guest more than twice the time of the state average, moves guests into appropriate housing at a rate 3 times the state average, and sees recidivism of less than one-third the state average. HOPE continues to respond to the needs of the community. Moving forward, HOPE sees the need to help families experiencing homelessness as a family unit, the need to help people keep their housing, the need to help make physical and mental healthcare more accessible, the need to make fresh foods more accessible, and the need to make community resources more accessible. HOPE is here to be supportive and collaborative.
HOPE provides safe and judgment-free shelter, innovative programs, and public advocacy to end homelessness.
HOPE envisions a community where everyone has the opportunity to move from homelessness to safe housing, gain access to resources, and develop the skills to enhance their quality of life.
SUMMARY HOPE was founded in 1998 as a seasonal warming center in response to the death of an individual from hypothermia who was not able to access shelter because he had been drinking. HOPE began providing year-round low barrier shelter (no sobriety requirement, no background check. embedded services from partner agencies) in 2014 and then added a second shelter, HOPE Recuperative in 2015. This shelter is the "discharge to home" option from the hospital when an individual is homeless. In 2020, HOPE added a motel shelter for individuals experiencing COVID 19 who are homeless.