Dear Friends,

Have you heard about Hope House?

I sure Hope so!


If it feels like we’ve been talking about our Hope House project for years already, there’s good reason – we have been!

We first envisioned creating a brand-new transitional housing facility for survivors of domestic violence and human trafficking, their children, and their pets back in 2019. After encountering setback after setback, we are finally nearing the finish line on this project and – with your help – we will be able to welcome our first Hope House residents in early 2023.

Shelter and housing services have always been the number one most requested service for our agency. Most of the survivors in our programs come to us with extremely limited incomes and few networks for support. Many are stay-at-home parents who were financially dependent on the person who caused them harm; others had to leave their jobs behind while fleeing for their safety; still others are employed, but earn less than a living wage and struggle to maintain independent living.

Because of these challenges, we offer a range of shelter and housing options to meet the various needs of the survivors in our community – from emergency motel stays and immediate shelter to transitional housing and long-term apartment placements. However, the capacity of our housing program is limited by the fact that our emergency shelter and transitional housing programs share space in the same 12-unit apartment building.

In 2019, we began looking into options to expand our programs to better meet the need for housing services in our community. Ultimately, we made the decision to transform our “Little House” property into a dedicated transitional

housing facility, where survivors with more extreme barriers to long-term stability could base their recoveries while working toward independent living.

Little House was a property that we already owned – it had housed our children’s program for years before eventually becoming our administrative office. Originally built as a duplex residence, it was a perfect fit for a new transitional housing space. We moved our admin team out and began gathering quotes and planning the work to be done.

And then a little thing called COVID-19 happened.

With the widespread uncertainty caused by the pandemic, we made the decision to put Hope House on pause and redirect all efforts toward ensuring recovery services remained safe and accessible to the survivors in our community despite the extraordinary situation we were all in.

We introduced virtual services, created a pandemic plan, and began providing supplies to protect the health of those visiting our facilities. With our community beside us, we were able to successfully keep all services active and open to survivors in need of support.

By 2021, we had a better grasp on the pandemic. We now understood how to protect the health of our clients and our staff while continuing to provide safe housing and supportive services to the survivors in our community.

We also understood that safe and flexible housing services were an even more urgent need for survivors than ever before.

During the early stages of the pandemic, helpline calls seeking shelter and housing services spiked as people experiencing domestic violence found themselves suddenly trapped almost 24/7 with the person causing them harm while they attempted to self-isolate and social distance. This brought many already tense home situations to a breaking point, and our helpline was flooded with calls from individuals looking for help finding safety.

This increased need reaffirmed for us the importance of expanding our shelter and housing services and encouraged us to return our focus to the Hope House project.

Unfortunately, this was when we learned of COVID-19’s impact on the building industry, with costs of labor and supplies skyrocketing since our initial quotes for the project.

We learned that Hope House would cost almost $200,000 more than originally estimated.

As has happened again and again in our 46-year history as an agency, our community came together and helped us overcome tremendous odds.

With you beside us, we were able to raise enough funds to begin work on the project in earnest.

This year, everything has seemed to finally fall into place, and the progress of this project has been absolutely amazing to watch unfold. In April, we officially broke ground, with friends throughout the community joining us in celebration of the event.

Over the course of the year, we have watched the foundation be laid, the framing go up, the outer walls and roofing get completed. We have windows and a porch, and a ramp leading up to the front door.

In September, our staff and Board of Directors took Sharpies in hand to write messages of hope on the inner framing of the house, infusing the space with positive energy and well-wishes for all future residents of the home.

This project is so close to being complete – it is wild to walk past the building now and think that less than a year ago it was just an empty lot.

The work has moved indoors, where the walls will go up, appliances will be installed, and new furniture will fill the space.

Once Hope House is complete, the building will provide transitional housing for up to 24 months for survivors whose experiences of trauma and marginalized positions in our community create extreme challenges to independent living.

This might be due to ongoing mental health concerns related to their experiences of abuse, such as anxiety, PTSD, and depression; extremely limited income, poor credit, or rental history; or immigration or other ongoing legal concerns.

Transitional housing bridges the gap between emergency shelter and long-term housing, and is a critical service for those survivors whose recovery needs prevent them from moving immediately into independent living. These survivors tend to need more time and more intensive support as they work to rebuild after situations of trauma and abuse.

While in Hope House, survivors will have access to a range of recovery services through their Advocates, all coordinated to help establish stability, healing, and long-term wellness.

Services are flexible and designed to be tailored to the unique recovery needs of each participant in the program. Residents receive ongoing case management to help establish financial independence and create networks of support throughout the community. They and their children can also receive counseling services to work through the trauma of living in an abusive home. They can also work with our team of legal advocates to find stability through the court system, receiving help with divorce and child custody, restraining orders, and immigration concerns.

Residents are also invited to join group sessions held at our Center, where they build community with others who have had similar journeys to their own, sharing their experiences and working towards healing together. These groups can cover mental health topics such as PTSD or addiction recovery, personal empowerment, parenting, and even holistic services such as yoga, animal-assisted therapy, and gardening workshops.

With a safe place to call home and ongoing support from a variety of Advocates with a wide range of expertise, residents of Hope House will have a foundation from which they can build their independence.

The trajectory this project took looked very different than anything we could have imagined back when we first began work in 2019. If we didn’t have the support of you – our community – during this time, I truly think we might not have made it past the very first hurdle.

Thank you for standing with us as we took on this enormous and critical project.

We are so close to completing this project and finally opening our doors to survivors in need of the intensive support of a transitional housing program.

But we’re not there yet. There is still work to be done before we can welcome our first residents of Hope House. We need furniture to make the space a welcoming and comfortable home. We need books, games, and toys to give the children in this program the tools they need to learn, grow, and thrive. We need kitchenware and linens and cleaning supplies to stock the cabinets throughout the house.

And so, as we near the end of this project that we have been working on for four years now, I have one final request for you.

Will you help us cross the finish line?

Will you help us raise $47,500 by the end of this year to make Hope House a reality?

I am so excited to be able to welcome the first residents of Hope House next year, and not just because it means I can finally stop talking about the project ;) – Hope House has been such a source of excitement and enthusiasm for our team over these past four years. For our staff, our Board of Directors, our Capital Campaign Committee, our donors, and our partners, this project has been an embodiment of Hope during an otherwise difficult and scary time.

I absolutely cannot wait for that Hope to become a reality, and for the chance to show you what your support has done for the survivors in our community.

From everyone at WTLC, thank you.

With appreciation,

Mark Lee

Chief Executive Officer

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