Sojourner House Rehabilitation: Getting to Ribbon Part 1
In 2009, Women Against Abuse partnered with the Non-Profit Finance Fund to undertake a thorough needs assessment for its transitional housing facility.
The results were grim. Without immediate repairs, Sojourner House would have been shut down due to aging and resulting building code violations.
Why transitional housing?
Each year, Sojourner House provides a home for approximately 65 residents (two-thirds of whom are children). Families are provided space in which they can safely stay for up to 24 months while they complete job training, save for an apartment and prepare to live on their own.
Many of the families living in Sojourner have been referred by case managers from WAA’s emergency shelter. The shelter provides a critical service for families who can no longer return home because of the physical, emotional and financial abuse inflicted by an abuser. Because of high demand for WAA's 100-bed shelter, there is a 90-day limit as to how long individuals can stay.
Transitional housing provides a critical stepping stone for women seeking long-term safe and affordable housing. Programming at Sojourner, which includes personalized assistance and group workshops, pools resources to help women in this search. As many residents show signs of posttraumatic stress disorder, behavioral therapy led by qualified trauma-informed practitioners help residents begin to address symptoms of trauma. Childcare services also ensure that children's needs are being met, while also providing women with the opportunity to work during the day and evenings.
Preserving Sojourner House
In light of the needs identified in 2009, Women Against Abuse embarked on a comprehensive renovation of its transitional housing facility. Currently, WAA has procured 95% of funds for this $2.74 million project. Not only will this rehabilitation restore Sojourner House to codes of building safety, it will significantly improve efficiency in order to reduce long-term operating costs.
Furthermore, Sojourner will expand by three apartment units to increase capacity by 25%. The new building for these apartments will provide residents with common meeting space as well as a computer lab. Funds under this project will also significantly enhance security, which in the past has disrupted operations to the extent that residents have had to be relocated from the facility to ensure their safety.
This project is slated to begin this winter. We are hopeful that in the next couple of years, from ground-breaking to ribbon-cutting, we will be able to report on dramatic and quality improvements to Sojourner House that will make it a safe, comfortable and welcoming environment for all.