The Giving Index: Haven House
Haven House is a non-profit organization that offers temporary shelter to residents of the Greater Lansing area. It was founded in 1983 after members of the East Lansing community noticed a need that many local families faced.
Twenty-eight people are currently living at Haven House—far fewer than the number of people who need its resources. Now that it’s winter, the demand for temporary housing only continues to rise due to Michigan’s snow and freezing temperatures.
Despite the many donations they receive, Haven House is still constantly in need of more help for its residents. In addition to donations of money, urgently needed items are posted and constantly updated on the website. These items consist mainly of personal hygiene items or household items like garbage bags or cleaners.
They are also always in need of volunteers to work phones or handle donations. “The need for volunteers is great,” Gabriel Biber, Haven House’s executive director, said. “The need for some of those household items on urgent needs list is great, and financial contributions are always really helpful.”
All these donations help the temporary residents find permanent homes sooner, improving their lives and enabling more people access to Haven House’s services.
These services are extensive and aimed at helping the residents at Haven House. Every day, residents meet with staff members to assess their goals and plans for that day. The next day, they discuss whether their goals were accomplished.
“A lot of what we do is help our clients figure out important goals and then holding them accountable for those goals,” Biber said. “For example, we don’t find housing or jobs for the clients, but we might provide a list of resources of available housing or available job opportunities, help them figure out what their plan is to apply for that housing or job and then hold them accountable the next day. Setting those expectations and then setting it back on our clients to do their own work.”
After finding permanent housing, Haven House staff check up on the new home owners monthly for a year to continue helping them succeed in life outside of Haven House.
Recently, community donations have gone towards the installation of WiFi, helping residents job hunt and communicate, and updating the kids’ play room at Haven House.
“There are always a lot of small improvements we’re trying to make to make sure the experience here is good for the residents,” Biber said. “I really see housing as a fundamental need that has a lot of positive outcomes for people if we can get it for them.”