The House of Hope is one of the largest and best-respected family shelters in the state of Massachusetts. The shelter and apartments each have strong Boards of Directors, including many prominent local business leaders. House of Hope has enjoyed strong support from the Lowell community, its corporations and religious organizations alike, and the shelter is in solid condition both physically and financially. Visitors to the House of Hope find a clean, bright, well-organized facility that has enjoyed unusual stability in its staffing as well.
The House of Hope opened its doors in December, 1985. In its first year of operation, the shelter provided very short-term housing to homeless individuals and families in the Lowell area, regardless of gender or family status. In 1986, after the opening of a second shelter in Lowell, HOH shifted its focus exclusively to homeless families, and began to accept contractual support from the Massachusetts Department of Public Welfare. Since that time, House of Hope has continued to be funded primarily by the state. The City of Lowell has also been an important source of support for House of Hope since the shelter’s inception.
In 1994, House of Hope purchased its current facility at 812 Merrimack Street. A year later, the organization was able to purchase two adjacent lots. Renovation projects in 1995 and 1996 brought the facility into full compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and added a playground and picnic area. In June 1998, House of Hope completed construction on a major expansion, adding 2,800 square feet of living and program space to the shelter.
The shelter’s focus eventually shifted toward long-term transitional shelter for families. For security reasons, House of Hope no longer accepts families where domestic violence is an active problem. In the fall of 1999, House of Hope was awarded a federal McKinney Grant to expand supportive services for guests, with an emphasis on welfare-to-work programming. A five-year strategic planning process was initiated by the shelter’s Executive Director, Deb Chausse, who joined House of Hope in January 2000. This process initiated a major fund-raising campaign that resulted in building New Hope Apartments — ten units that appropriate “graduates” of the shelter can rent on a permanent basis — and its abutting Community Center, which is shared with the shelter. The Apartments were opened in April 2005. In addition, House of Hope purchased a suite of rooms in a medical building across the street from the shelter — House of Hope Health Services — which serves as our healthcare, management and conference center.