From top left:
Pete Powell, Phil Dwyer,
Meghan Lowney, Reverend Dick Schuster
SHW was created by four nonprofit supportive housing providers who identified the need in Fairfield County for a new type of entity that could represent their collective interests in creating more permanent housing for the chronically homeless.
The original founding members of SHW were Central Connecticut Coast YMCA, the Interfaith Housing Association now known as Homes for Hope in Westport, Operation Hope of Fairfield, and St. Luke’s LifeWorks now known as Inspirica in Stamford. Each of the founding members recognized that their agency did not have the capacity to develop housing. Their reason for creating a separate membership organization was that each could benefit from having a relationship with an entity that would work on their behalf to create permanent supportive housing units. The members agreed that the new entity would:
• Anticipate and meet the permanent supportive housing needs of the chronically homeless in Fairfield County
• Facilitate and enable the funding, development, and management of permanent supportive housing units and the infrastructure and talent necessary to fill the gap between needs and resources;
• Support state and country-wide efforts to address the needs of the chronic homeless population;
• Provide people in need the stability and opportunity to regain their confidence, rebuild their lives, and achieve independence.
Recognizing that building permanent supportive housing was not the only key to ending homelessness, SHW embarked on new approaches. Guided by a strategic plan put forth by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, SHW emerged as the backbone organization for Opening Doors of Fairfield County (ODFC), a regional movement of over 150 stakeholders working together systematically to end homelessness. ODFC goals are straightforward:
• Prevent and end homelessness among veterans by 2016
• Finish the job of ending chronic homelessness by 2017
• Prevent and end homelessness among families, youth and children by 2020
• Set a path to ending all types of homelessness
Currently, SHW has ten member agencies that include Pacific House in Stamford, Open Door Shelter, Children & Family Agency, Mid-Fairfield AIDS Project in Norwalk, Catholic Charities of Fairfield County and New Reach. SHW benefits from these leaders who have extensive experience and can act expeditiously to develop solutions and provide direction to SHW staff.