Haven House Families

Since 1983, Haven House has helped more than a thousand mothers, fathers and children leave homelessness behind.

Meet the families you're helping...

Three Generations of Hope

Almost a year ago, Toricha moved to Lansing, Michigan, to be closer to her family and move in with her mother while searching for permanent housing. Her neighborhood in Indiana had become too violent. After a neighborhood shooting resulted in bullets entering her home, Toricha did not feel her family was safe. Despite the support network of her family in Michigan, Toricha struggled to find affordable housing in an unfamiliar area.
In desperate need of help and support, Toricha turned to Haven House. This familiar resource proved to be a significant lifeline to Toricha's mother, Gwendolyn, just years earlier. With the assistance of outreach services, Toricha secured affordable housing without ever having to stay at the shelter. Not only does she have a home for herself and her kids, buts she's found additional support through our follow-up program, Partners In Progress. 
Toricha went from homeless to housed thanks to the service and support provided by Haven House supporters like you. Then, she helped her mom and niece through their housing crises. 
 A short time after Toricha moved into her new home, Gwendolyn learned that her landlord would not be renewing her lease. Gwendolyn and her granddaughter Jenaisica were left with nowhere to go. Fortunately, they were able to move in with Jenaisica's mother, Latoya. Through our outreach program, Jenaisica and eventually Gwendolyn secured permanent housing and are now actively involved in our Partners in Progress program.

"Partners In Progress and the outreach program are a blessing for people. Haven House provides long-term support other shelters cannot," said Toricha.

All three women have  successfully maintained their housing by managing their monthly budgets and paying their rent and utilities on time every month before other expenses. They get support with household budgeting and goal setting from Pam, our Housing Resource Specialist. Pam has helped the three women learn how to set realistic goals, maintain income, arrange childcare, and   connect with their neighborhood and community.
While Jenaisica is able to maintain her rent, getting into an apartment was not so easy. Jenaisica explained, "I knew that I would   never be able to save enough money for my first month's rent and security deposit." Even with careful budgeting and planning, it took financial assistance with move in costs to help Jenaisica obtain her apartment.

Jenaisica is confident that she will be able to pay her rent and plan for her future. During a recent visit at her home, Jenaisica shared that the support you’ve provided "has been beneficial in helping me to start my life together with my baby girl."    
Gwendolyn has strived to create positive generational change for her family. She finds grace in the sight of her grandchildren making friends with the neighbors, thrilled at the idea of them playing in her backyard together. Toricha appreciates that this is the first time they have had the space of a home in a quiet neighborhood.  

Three women from three generations are helping each other through life's obstacles and seeing hope for the future. They are incredibly proud that their children and grandchildren can witness them achieving the necessary goals to maintain their permanent residences and, more importantly, create a home that will be filled with unforgettable memories. The best advice they could give would be to "Stay focused and just do what you need to do."

Sunrays of Hope: The Jimmya Story

Jimmya was facing one of the hardest moments of her life.  She and her son two-year-old son Aiden were living in her car after finding herself unable to stay with family due to an unsafe situation.  Despite having a job, Jimmya had faced rejection after rejection from the apartment complexes she applied at, due to a past eviction.
As soon as she contacted Haven House, Jimmya and her son were provided with a temporary room of their own through our shelter program, to give them a place to stay while Jimmya continued to seek permanent housing.
Describing the obstacles she had faced with our staff, it became apparent that she needed to start contacting private landlords who were willing to rent to someone with a less-than-perfect rental history.  Haven House staff maintain connections with several such landlords in the Lansing area. Jimmya worked with staff to establish a housing budget within her means and work toward daily goals of finding a rental. She began to feel more optimistic.
“I was shocked there was so much help. Haven House kept me accountable for looking for places to live and helped along the way when I encountered roadblocks,” explained Jimmya during a recent visit with staff as part of our Partners In Progress follow-up program.
Jimmya and Aiden were sheltered for six weeks before securing a rental. “She was so excited to share the news with Haven House staff,” remembers Terri, Haven House’s Lead Shelter Coordinator. 
Since Jimmya has reached her housing goal, she is focused on saving money, reaching financial stability, and improving her credit score for future opportunities. Jimmya has confidence and is motivated to meet these goals as well. Along the way, people like you are helping Jimmya by supporting the services that haven been so crucial to her reaching stable housing.  This includes planning and problem solving meetings with Pam, Haven House’s Housing Resource Specialist.
Pam visits Jimmya and Aiden in their new home to assist Jimmya in developing strategies to reach her goals, and to provide direct access to other resources.  According to Jimmya,“The monthly supply list Pam delivers has been one of the most helpful resources. The cleaning supplies and hygiene products add up quickly. You think you have an extra $100.00 a month but you really do not because you need to buy laundry soap, toilet paper, hygiene products, and diapers. It’s such a huge help!”
Jimmya understands the level of trust it takes for a landlord to give second chances to those with evictions.  Since moving in to her place, Jimmya has been able to pay her rent in full, on time, each month.  Thanks to Haven House’s “Budget Boost” assistance as part of Partners-In-Progress, your support is providing Jimmya with a temporary partial reimbursement of her rent to help her more quickly stabilize her finances. For other parents who may find themselves in a housing crises, Jimmya’s advice is to be open and honest about your circumstances, though it may be difficult or feel embarrassing.  Everyone’s situation is different—but as Jimmya says, “Haven House will help you figure it out!

Springing into Action!

Douglas never expected to find himself homeless. As a single father of a two-year old son, he was panicked and unsure of what the future would hold for him and his young child. Not only was Douglas seeking housing, he was also striving to regain employment. He wondered if he’d ever be able to finish the advanced degree which he was just a few classes shy of completing.

While seeking solutions to his housing crisis, Douglas learned that Haven House shelters families with children, including single dads. After receiving help from friends and other local agencies with temporary accommodations, Douglas found that being sheltered by Haven House meant more than just a place to stay or access to basic needs like food, clothing, and transportation assistance.

When Douglas and his son entered shelter, he explained to staff that he had no food, identification, or transportation. Shelter staff and Douglas quickly got to work together to meet these basic needs, but also to make a plan for Douglas to secure a permanent home.

Our Shelter Coordinators worked closely with Douglas to assess his goals and what it would take to achieve them. Together they established a customized housing plan for Douglas and his son. Each day, Douglas took steps toward the goal of reaching affordable and permanent housing, including securing necessary identification documents and continuing his employment search. At the same time, it was important to support the mental and physical well-being of both father and son through an extremely stressful time.

Douglas was sheltered for 37 days, but it did not take nearly that long for him to realize the difference that Haven House was making in the lives of him and his son, who was just learning to talk.
Douglas describes Haven House staff as “people who can truly help.” He says Haven House is “an organization that understands and is ready and willing to help.” Douglas found that working with staff to create a housing plan customized for his family was vital to his successful journey to housing. This work is made possible thanks to your support!

Each day while in shelter, Douglas met with staff and approached his daily plans with sincerity and enthusiasm while searching for housing, applying for new state-issued identification, and seeking employment. His will and determination paid off: with the assistance of Haven House staff, Douglas was able to regain employment and reach permanent housing after less than six weeks in shelter.

Douglas is thankful for the impact Haven House supporters like you were able to make for him and his son. Speaking from his new home recently, Douglas emphasized that “Haven House is a great place for anyone who is sincere about improving their lives.” He mentioned specific staff members who were “very influential in giving me the tools I need to succeed.”

Douglas has traveled through adversity in his life, and he shares how much he has learned through his experience of homelessness, explaining, “I have learned a lot about myself during this time. My own inner strength to survive and fight for the lives of me and my children.” Your continued support helps families like Douglas’s along on their journeys to permanent housing and financial stability.


Brighter Days Ahead!

As a single mother with no car, Nicole was used to challenges: balancing work life, where jobs have to be reachable by bus (with hours while the bus runs), with taking care of her family, meant hiring a babysitter when her children were younger.  Nicole’s budget was always tight, and by the time her kids were teenagers, she was managing month-to-month with no savings when she found herself facing homelessness—not for the first time—with her family.  But thanks to your help, Nicole’s future looks very different from her past.

Looking back on her experience now, Nicole reflects: “Haven House is the nicest shelter I ever had to stay at.  Everyone is very friendly, and they are helping to guide you to meet your goals to get out of the shelter.”   

Early last year, Nicole called Haven House and explained her situation: another agency was temporarily assisting her family with somewhere to stay, but their time was limited there, and she needed help making a plan to find something more than emergency shelter—she was trying to find a home where she could bring her kids, who were now well aware of the precarious time they were going
through together.

Nicole’s relief was cautious when she was told there was a place at Haven House for her.  Even though she felt welcomed when she arrived, she was still worried about what would happen now—where would her family end up next?

Thanks to the support of community members like you, at Haven House Nicole found a support system. 
Each day during her stay in our shelter, she took steps—with the support and guidance of our staff—to move toward her permanent housing goals.  This included increasing her income, refining her household budget planning, and applying to rentals within her reach. It was a lot to tackle at once. But now she did not have to face the obstacles alone.

Some of Nicole’s many small steps toward her goal of reaching a home included fixing an error with her food stamp account, proving her eligibility for cash assistance, and submitting an updated Medicaid enrollment for one of her children. Nicole was able to get those crucial tasks completed with the assistance of Haven House and Dept. of Health and Human Services staff working collaboratively, so Nicole could get the help she needed.  Besides accomplishing steps like these, including assessing local rentals’ suitability for her family and fit with her budget, Nicole felt like she was moving along a learning curve of how to stay ahead of issues affecting her finances. She was planning for the future more than she ever had. Nicole was overjoyed when she finally got the keys to her own townhouse rental, on a bus line and all.  She was finally taking her kids home—and there, the learning curve and hard work didn’t end. There were utility bills to pay, children to be clothed, and plenty of expenses besides rent that food stamps don’t cover.  Through Haven House’s Partners-in-Progress program, Nicole has been learning how to better manage her bills and stay on top of them, while exploring goals for the future.  Each month Haven House’s Housing Resource Specialist, Pam Young, helps Nicole refine and track her goals. Pam also delivers some household essentials like cleaning products which have been donated to Haven House, to help defray Nicole’s costs as she gains financial stability.

Starting this year, 2021, Nicole is beginning a new job. She and her children feel at home, and now Nicole is able to teach her children what she’s learned, and ways they can help themselves in their own futures as adults. Seemingly small things, such as turning off the lights and electronics when not in use, to tactics for planning important purchases, Nicole is eager to transmit her knowledge and enthusiasm to her kids. As Nicole says, “They need to learn the value of keeping bills under control, and that is my job to teach them.”

Continuing to reflect on a tumultuous year, with emotional ups-and-downs, Nicole is grateful for the help she received at Haven House: “Pam always let me know that she believed in me and offered her help and knowledge of how to move forward … I am now in a great place emotionally and I have a new job starting and I know I can take care of my kids and keep them in housing.  I can move forward. I feel reborn and brand new. Thank you Haven House.”
If you are interested in learning more about how your involvement with Haven House impacts the lives of local families like Nicole’s, please contact info@havenhouseel.org or visit us online at havenhouseel.org

A Little Goes a Long Way

    Thanks to your generosity, Haven House continues to provide shelter, support, and hope to local homeless families during these changing times.  

    We were reminded of the long-term effects of your help during a recent conversation with Linda Doyle-Bennett.  Linda has been a member of our Board of Directors since last summer.  She stayed at Haven House in 2012 and has been living in the same apartment that she found during her time at Haven House ever since.

    Linda is thinking of the families who become homeless during these unprecedented times.  She thinks back to when she lost her house during the summer of 2012.  She found herself homeless with her 25-year-old son, Christopher.  Christopher was severely developmentally delayed and impaired, and Linda was his sole caregiver.  She was “overwhelmed” figuring out where they would live and how they would stay together.  She called shelters throughout the state and thought that her and Chris would have to be separated because of his adult age.  That was just not an option for them.

    She remembers being “unsure of what was lying ahead for her.”  After struggling to find shelter for her and Christopher, Linda’s daughter told her about a family homeless shelter, Haven House.  Linda called Haven House.  It was perfect timing!  Haven House had space for her and Chris the very first morning she called!
“I was excited...I found out there was room.  There was hope.”

    Linda’s time at Haven House started out chaotic.  She and Christopher had lost public assistance because  she did not have a home address to complete paperwork.  Haven House staff helped her to re-apply for assistance so that she could start her housing search.While meteorologists were  in awe of the high temperatures that summer, Linda rolled Christopher in his wheelchair throughout Lansing each day seeking housing.  She was having a hard time finding somewhere affordable to live. 

    Linda was also having a hard time adjusting to a new schedule at the shelter.  Typically, she would crochet when she was feeling stressed, but she didn’t bring any yarn with her to Haven House and could not afford to buy any.  One of her friends suggested she start using plastic bags.  So, she asked staff, residents, and anyone she could think of to collect bags.  She cut the bags into strips and crocheted a purse for her daughter, which helped her to relax.

    Just as she approached her thirtieth day at Haven House, Linda received good news.  Deerpath Apartments down the street from Haven House had an opening for a family.  After weeks of looking for housing, she applied to Deerpath and was accepted.  She had a home of her own!

    She remembers walking into her new place and thinking, “I can fix up my own place now.”  As we were talking to Linda a few days ago, she was sitting on the front porch of her home—the same home she moved into from Haven House eight years ago.

    She settled into her new home during that first year, and when the hot summer rolled around again she got thinking about Haven House residents.  On the Fourth of July she brought tea and popsicles to residents.  She remembers wanting iced tea to cool off when she was at Haven House, and she loved when she was able to have it.

    Linda has stayed involved with Haven House ever since that Fourth of July.  As a “helper” herself, seeking help at Haven House was hard for Linda.  She is determined to give back as much and as often as she can.  She currently serves on our Board of Directors and is a member of the fundraising committee.  You may even see her crocheting with friends around town in her free time!
Linda is thankful to be able to continue to support families even during the COVID-19 outbreak.  She wants to tell families seeking assistance from Haven House right now, “You’ll come out alright.  Keep pushing.  You can do it.”


“I feel relieved that we have a place that is ours now.” -Prudence

           Sounds of giggles erupted from our playroom on a sunny afternoon a few weeks ago.  Smiles spread across the faces of the staff as they recognized the laughter.  Going into the play room, we saw Vivian (age 4) happily playing with her younger brother, Michael (age 1).  Her parents, James and Prudence, were chatting with staff nearby.

    James and Prudence were happy to update us on life in their new home.  They stayed at Haven House with their kids, Vivian, Michael, and Gabriel (age 7) last spring.  Thanks to your support, they moved into a home of their own in June.  Since moving, the kids started school nearby, Michael took his first steps, and the family welcomed a new baby, Ella, in October.

    At this time last year James and Prudence were unsure of what the new year would bring for their family.  Unable to afford rent, James and Prudence were evicted from their home.  They temporarily stayed with family, but with three little ones, the small space they were sharing became too crowded. 

    James remembered staying at Haven House as a teenager.  A few of James’ siblings also stayed at Haven House as adults and received support with finding housing.  James thought Haven House was the right place to find temporary shelter for his family.  Prudence was nervous by the thought of entering shelter, though.  She was worried her family would be separated or that her kids would not have space to play and just be kids.
    James explained that it was hard to come to shelter, but “knowing we had a family to think about made it easier.” 
    When a shelter coordinator called and offered James and Prudence a spot at Haven House they decided it was the best choice for their family.  Prudence explained that her fears quickly faded when she arrived.  She saw the playroom full of toys and volunteers cooking dinner on their first night.  She knew they would get the support they needed from you, our staff, and volunteers to find a home.
    While they were here, James and Prudence took Michael in the stroller with Gabriel and Vivian running next to them on two or three busses each day to apply for jobs and look for housing.  After a week of filling out applications, James found a job.
    James thought his family would quickly find a place to live after he was hired.  Unfortunately, because of prior evictions, their family’s rental applications were denied by two units during their first month here.
    James, Prudence, and their kids were able to remain hopeful despite the frustration of two denied applications.  Seeing other families find housing gave them hope that they would find a home soon too.  Each day they set daily goals and looked for a place to live.  James explained, “We tried so much.  Our daily tasks gave us something to look forward to.  We were given structure here.”
    The family was overjoyed when their application was approved for a home in June.  James and Prudence love their new home.  Prudence told us, “I feel a lot better and relieved that we have a place that is ours now.”  
    You bring hope, comfort, and support to mom, dads, and kids, like James and Prudence’s family.  Thanks to your kindness, James, Prudence, Gabriel, Vivian, Michael, and Ella have a place to call home. 
    Learn how to support local homeless families this holiday season at HavenHouseEL.org/holidays.  See an interview with James and Prudence here.

These are a few of our favorite things!       

            “I love math best!”  “The play center is my favorite!”  Bryleigh and Elianna, sisters who stayed at Haven House last fall, eagerly shared their favorite parts of school with us.          

        During our preparations for Adopt-A- Child for Back to School, we interviewed kids from three different families who used to reside at Haven House and are now part of our Partners In Progress follow-up program.  These kids told us about their favorite parts of school and Haven House, and we want to share them with you!  

        Unexpected life changes brought Milauge (4th grade) and Tavion (Head Start) to Haven House this winter.  Their mom worked hard each day to find  housing, and after 29 days, Milauge and Tavion moved into a new apartment.              

HH: What was your favorite thing to do at Haven House?      
Milauge: Tutoring on Thursday nights!
Tavion: Going to the playroom with the other kids.

HH: What is your favorite thing to do at school?
Milauge: Play outside at recess!
Tavion: Snack time!

HH: What do you want to be when you grow up?
Milauge:  A YouTuber
Tavion:  A Firefighter

    Next, we got to chat with Elianna (1st grade) and Bryleigh (Kindergarten).  Bryleigh and Elianna moved around quite a bit in the past few years and were living at their grandma’s house with their mom and dad before coming to Haven House. Unable to afford a place of their own, Bryleigh and Elianna’s parents called each morning at 8:00 A.M. until there was availability at our shelter.  After staying at Haven House for 27 days, Bryleigh, Elianna, and their parents were able to get into subsidized housing, where they have lived since the fall of 2018. Throughout their time at Haven House and after moving, Bryleigh and Elianna’s parents were able to keep their jobs to support their daughters.  Bryleigh and Elianna were excited to share a few of their favorite things with us!

HH: What was your favorite thing to do at Haven House?
Both:  Playroom, playroom, playroom!

HH: Where do you live now?
Bryleigh:  Here, we live here [their current apartment].

HH: What do you like about school?
Elianna:  Math!
Bryleigh:  The toy center!
HH: What do you want to be when you grow up?
Elianna:  A nurse
Bryleigh:  A ballerina

    We also got to talk to Arminta (3rd grade).  Arminta was living with her grandma, mom, and dad before her grandma passed away.  Unable to afford her grandma’s house on their own, Arminta and her parents came to Haven House.  After just two and a half weeks at Haven House, Arminta and her family moved into a rental house thanks to  Arminta’s parents’ hard work to accomplish the daily plan that they created with the shelter coordinators each day.  Arminta has been living in her current home since March, and loves it.

HH: What was your favorite thing to do at Haven House?
Arminta: There was a girl named Ms. Terri [one of the Shelter Coordinators at HH], and I really like her.
HH: Where do you live now?
Arminta:  Right here [current apartment]!
HH: What is your favorite part of where you live now?
Arminta: That we have a birdie!
HH: What do you want to be when you grow up? 
Arminta: I want to be a police or a doctor!

We loved catching up with Tavion, Milauge, Elianna, Bryleigh, and Arminta!

Brent and Ashley's Story

The pleasure in Brent and Ashley’s family life often comes from the natural world:  walking in the woods with their three boys has long been a favorite activity. But for years, financial stress and lack of a permanent home made it difficult to enjoy even simple pleasures.
Ashley and Brent had never had a place of their own before.  While raising three boys, they bounced between temporary stays with family. Finally having worn out their options last summer, they moved to a campground.
With winter on the way, Ashley and Brent began even more fervently pursuing a stable environment for their three sons.  They felt out of their element in searching for housing and knew they needed help reaching financial stability.  “We were at our very rock bottom, with nothing but a few possessions,” remembers Ashley.
Like hundreds of families in the Lansing area, they needed Haven House—but with our seven bedrooms full, they were among dozens calling day after day, seeking a room in our shelter. Ashley and Brent called every day at eight in the morning for two weeks straight before there was finally a space available for their family.  Ashley recalls the relief she felt when they entered shelter: “We were invited to stay at Haven House. They helped us build the foundation for our new lives.”

While in shelter, Ashley and Brent were both able to secure and maintain employment. They worked opposite schedules so that one of them would always be available to watch their boys, ages five, four and one. The couple worked hard to create a routine for their children and spent time every day searching for a home of their own. Each day, Haven House staff met with the parents to help them stay on track with their goals. Ashley says, “Haven House was in fact the biggest blessing of our lives. If it weren’t for the staff from Haven House we would still be homeless and hopeless.”
Like hundreds of families in the Lansing area, they needed Haven House—but with our seven bedrooms full, they were among dozens calling day after day, seeking a room in our shelter. Ashley and Brent called every day at eight in the morning for two weeks straight before there was finally a space available for their family.  Ashley recalls the relief she felt when they entered shelter: “We were invited to stay at Haven House. They helped us build the foundation for our new lives.”

While in shelter, Ashley and Brent were both able to secure and maintain employment. They worked opposite schedules so that one of them would always be available to watch their boys, ages five, four and one. The couple worked hard to create a routine for their children and spent time every day searching for a home of their own. Each day, Haven House staff met with the parents to help them stay on track with their goals. Ashley says, “Haven House was in fact the biggest blessing of our lives. If it weren’t for the staff from Haven House we would still be homeless and hopeless.”

While they hoped to move to a more rural area of town, affordable housing in these areas was hard to find, so the couple focused their housing search in the City of Lansing. Exactly one month after entering shelter, Ashley and Brent moved into their first apartment.  They have both sustained the employment they found while in shelter, with Brent advancing to a full-time position and Ashley taking on a second part-time job.
By maintaining consistent employment, and paying rent and other bills on time every month, the couple has significantly improved life for their family. All of this was possible thanks to your support of Haven House’s successful rehousing program. Six months into tenancy in their first apartment, Ashley and Brent received the exciting news that they were at long last being selected from a waiting list to participate in a subsidized housing program for low-income families.
Unfortunately, their apartment—which they liked, and had begun to feel like home—was not eligible for this program. But Ashley and Brent realized the long-term positive impact that subsidized housing would have for their family’s financial stability.  So, with the help of Haven House’s Partners in Progress program, they once again worked to find a new home for their family which would qualify for this ongoing rent-assistance.
With careful planning, they worked hard to save the money they would need: the fee to break their lease, plus first-month’s rent and security deposit for their new subsidized unit. Through difficulty and determination, they found their home on the outskirts of the town they had dreamt of moving to. This was a  major accomplishment for a family who had been homeless less than one year ago.

Ashley and Brent look forward to staying in this home for the next several years. In the meantime, they are already planning their next long-term goal: home ownership. Ashley, Brent and the boys successfully engaged with Haven House’s programs to overcome their housing crisis and reach a home of their own. Their oldest two boys are excited to have their pet snake and frog with them and to explore their neighborhood, finding more creatures along the way.

Brandi's Story 

Brandi, a working single mom with dreams of becoming a nurse, is a former Haven House resident. Despite holding a job and her own best efforts, Brandi found herself unable to provide her children with the security of a home. Early last year, complications from her pregnancy led Brandi to a one-month hospital stay.
To make things even worse, the joy of giving birth to her son was quickly accompanied by concerns over her newborn’s own medical issues. Brandi continued to spend time by her son’s side until he was eventually discharged. During this time, she was replaced at work.
Although Brandi was able to find a new job after her son’s release from the hospital, the hours did not provide enough income to secure a home. Brandi’s family moved in with a relative for a short stay, but it was a tight and increasingly stressful situation for all. Brandi was anxious to get back on her feet again. She needed to find a home of her own—but she needed help. 

Thanks to your support, a call to Haven House made all the difference. You provided Brandi and her children the shelter, compassionate support, help with budgeting, and fresh beginning they needed. You gave Brandi’s family hope and the opportunity to jump-start their life again by making crucial services possible.

Brandi continued to work as many hours as she could during her stay in shelter. In a little over a month, she moved her family into their own rental! And thanks to the services you provided, on the day she moved Brandi was confident that her budget planning would allow her to remain stable in her new home.

Brandi attends classes at a local community college and is working hard toward her goal of becoming a nurse. She continues to care for her children and provide for their needs. Since reaching home, Brandi has been careful to systematically pay off her debt. She also watched her credit score improve during her year-long participation in our unique Partners in Progress follow-up program.
Thanks to your kindness, Brandi now has a hopeful future and new outlook on life!

Clara's Story  

Motivated, strong, and resilient: these are just a few words that describe Clara, who worked her first job at age 12 and left home at 13.  She learned at a very early age how to survive and take care of herself.

After ending an unhealthy relationship last year, she found herself the sole financial supporter of her family and struggled to afford housing and other expenses on her own.  After losing her housing and having nowhere else to go with her two children, she gratefully accepted shelter for her family at Haven House.

Because Clara’s son was 15, he was considered too old to be with his mom and sister at any other local shelter. Haven House is the only shelter in the Lansing area that could keep the family together so they were not forced to separate.  Clara remembers the time well: “It was hard being a single parent with no help but Haven House opened the doors for my family.”

While in shelter, Clara worked and saved money.  Clara was independent, using guidance from our staff to follow up on her goals to regain a permanent home. She got along well with other parents in shelter, setting a positive example with the results of her diligent budgeting and housing search: In less than five weeks, Clara moved her family out of shelter and back into a rental home of her own.

After getting settled into their new housing, Clara became an active participant in Haven House’s Partners in Progress program.  She used her tax refund to buy her own furniture, curtains and other items to make her house a home.  Her employment status has gone from temporary, part-time to permanent, full-time.  This comes with a well-earned pay raise for Clara.  She consistently pays her bills on time and follows her monthly budget to make sure she prioritizes housing and other necessary expenses. 

“I am so appreciative of the donors who helped my family by giving us a nice Christmas and helping with back-to-school clothes, a backpack and school supplies for my son.”  Clara is referring to our holiday Adopt-a-Family and back-to-school Adopt-a-Child programs.  With your help, Clara was able to focus on her rent and utilities while still enjoying these seasonal milestones with her kids. At a recent visit in her home, Clara reflected “Haven House donors are so generous!”

Clara plans to remain in her current housing for a couple more years and may down-size once her children are out of the home.  For now, she’s trying to work hard, stay healthy and enjoy her life—she is an inspiration for parents currently in our shelter.

Logan's Story

Logan is no stranger to staying busy. Being a mom of four small children, and working long hours as a waitress to support her family, has made her an ace at time management. From the moment Logan and her children entered Haven House, she worked hard to meet her goals quickly. She successfully worked two jobs while in shelter, saved money, and secured her own affordable housing for her family again.

Logan had struggled to maintain housing for herself and the kids after their father left the family. She and her kids tried staying with family members, but knew they needed to get into a home of their own again. Logan feels she would not have been able to get her children into their own home so quickly without the help you provided through our shelter and re-housing programs. As Logan says, "The staff at Haven House taught me how to manage my money. Everyone was so helpful."


Since leaving shelter for their own home, Logan's family has been one of our Partners in Progress. Parents in this program complete a monthly budget to help focus on paying rent and utilities before other expenses. They also receive support working toward short- and long-term goals, and get updates on local resources. Logan is very grateful for the generosity of donors for the hygiene items and cleaning supplies she receives through your support of this crucial follow-up program.

Now that Logan has gotten her family comfortable in their new home, she plans to further her education. She believes a career in the medical field is her calling, as a chance to pay forward the good will she has received. Logan practices patience and understanding with her children and those around her. She feels that these skills are transferable with how she wants to earn a living.

Logan said, "During my stay at Haven House, I learned from the stories of other families in the same situation. The families supported each other and it was a very positive environment." Logan is a great example of how hard work and dedication can lead to success!

Latoya's Story

When Latoya came to Haven House, she had no other choice to keep her family together: no other local shelter would allow her 16 year old son to stay together with her and her daughter. The crisis began suddenly.

Flames leapt quickly from the wiring to the curtains. Before long Latoya's home was engulfed. Everyone was safe—for now. But Latoya’s home had been completely destroyed by the fire.  At the time, she was working two part-time jobs and was keeping up with rent and bills, but had not been able to build up any savings. To keep her family together and safely sheltered, Latoya had only one option: Haven House is the lonely local shelter that will not split up a teenage boy and his mom.

Latoya, her teen son and young daughter came to Haven House with little more than the clothes on their backs. But she was determined to make the most of her time in shelter.  With your help, in less than three weeks Latoya was able to secure a new rental. At Haven House she worked on not only saving up for a new rental, but also identified and sought additional resources to supplement her wages.


When Latoya and her family reached their new home, it was unfurnished. But thanks to Haven House donors like you, she now has proper beds for herself and the kids. Since reaching their new home, Latoya’s family has received a visit from our staff each month. As part of this Partners in Progress follow-up program, you helped Latoya with basic needs like supplies for house-cleaning and hygiene, and guidance with financial planning.

Latoya successfully maintains both jobs and closely follows the monthly budget she has figured out thanks to the budgeting skills you’ve provided. Any of her free time lately has been spent working on securing her GED, which she hopes to earn by next year. You kept Latoya’s family together and helped them through a crisis. Now, because of the shelter and assistance you gave, she is ready to start the next chapter of her life.

Sue's Path to Success
“Seek Employment and Housing Non-Stop”

In December of 2014, Sue entered Haven House with her two young sons after leaving her housing due to an unsafe environment. With the guidance of the Haven House program, Sue secured affordable housing for her family again. Sue has been in the same rental for almost three years!

Since her stay at Haven House, Sue has married and had another child. She continues her busy life balancing work, college classes in Health Care Case Management and taking care of her family.

Her husband Lance assists with financially supporting the family through his employment as well. Sue has become a donor to Haven House, bringing hygiene supply items to shelter that she collects through her couponing expertise. Sue looks forward to helping others save money by teaching them the art of couponing, too

Sue’s advice for families in a homeless situation is “don’t be afraid to ask for help, seek employment and housing non-stop, and follow the Haven House program—because it works.”

John and Angela Tell Their Story

Over three years ago, the Smiths were facing multiple crises: "We had a house fire...all the property was completely destroyed. The smoke destroyed it all," John remembers (names have been changed).

Other shelters could take Angela and the girls, "but not us together." Haven House welcomed the family, including John who at the time was also recovering from being struck by a car. "I had a traumatic brain injury.  They were very open...it was remarkable, they worked with us really well." Angela says that while in shelter, our re-housing program became"the foundation for everything we have, as far as learning how to be better with money. Not just to budget, but to plan."

"There's been a rollercoaster of situations in our life," Angela explains. "The house we're in now, we've been there for two years, almost two-and-a-half." John added that our follow-up program contributed to the family gaining long-term stability after leaving shelter for a home of their own again. "There was continuous checking in, help managing money, that was really helpful for us."

Angela says that successfully completing Haven House's shelter and re-housing programs required significant effort on their part, saying "the program works, if you actually work." Even though John and Angela have successfully completed our Partners in Progress program, they remain grateful for the skills they gained from our staff, which they use every day to organize and improve their own lives. So even now, more than two years after leaving shelter, Angela still says "Haven House--they're helping us."  
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Demario and Sabrina

In the spring of 2016, Demario and Sabrina were both seeking work, and were quickly falling behind on their bills. When they could no longer keep up with rent, the family found themselves seeking temporary shelter.

Haven House was the only shelter that allowed them to stay together with their children without having to separate. While in shelter, both parents worked hard to get a budget planned and seek housing options while still trying to secure employment.

As a result of their hard work and perseverance they were able to secure affordable housing in less than thirty days.  With the guidance your support makes possible through our re-housing program, Sabrina quickly obtained employment at a local restaurant chain and Demario is also working, at a factory in Lansing.  Since moving to their own home, both parents have been active participants in our Partners in Progress program which helps them set and achieve long-term goals.


They successfully maintain their housing by following the monthly budget they have identified and making sure their rent and utilities are paid on time every month before other expenses. Demario and Sabrina feel that the community in Lansing has been very supportive for them. Your support has helped them through this transition and they are very grateful. 

It has been comforting for them to see their children make friends with their neighbors and hope to see these relationships continue over the years. Demario said this is the first time they have had the space of a home (instead of an apartment) in a quiet neighborhood.

Demario and Sabrina are proud that their children see them going to work every day and feel this teaches them how to be independent.  Their advice for other families is to “stay focused and just do what you have to do.”


Shelly's Story

In the winter of 2015, Shelly moved her family into a home after saving for over a year to have the rent, security deposit and other move in costs covered. After just four months living there, Shelly found out her landlord had been renting her home illegally, with numerous health and safety violations. Due to unsafe conditions, Shelly and her kids had to leave home immediately. She did not have enough savings to secure a new rental so quickly.

Eventually sleeping on a relative’s floor in another county, Shelly was losing all hope for a normal life for her children. It was getting increasingly difficult to transport the children to and from school while Shelly continued to work. Shelly diligently called our shelter every morning for two weeks--every bed in our shelter was full—and eventually room became available. Shelly says each time she called to see if there was space for her family at Haven House, “the staff and volunteers who answered the phone were friendly and caring.” This gave Shelly hope that Haven House would be a positive environment for her kids during this difficult time.

They had never been to a shelter before and Shelly was concerned how her children would respond. Thanks to your support, from the day Shelly and her family entered Haven House she found relief and opportunity. Having other children there whose families were in similar homeless situations was relaxing for her children. Shelly shared information on local landlords and available rentals with the other parents in shelter. After viewing numerous rentals, Shelly found a landlord that she felt understood her situation and had a home that was perfect for her family. Shelly feels that the staff and volunteers at Haven House were extremely supportive with helping her move and very much appreciated the household items she received when she exited shelter to move into her new housing. These household items included dishes, pots and pans, cooking utensils, towels, blankets, sheets and general hygiene and cleaning supplies, which are all items made available to Haven House residents through the generosity of donors.

This April, Shelly and her kids celebrated one year in their new home. Shelly was impressed with all of the help that Haven House provided her family after they left shelter as well. They were invited back to Haven House for special events and her children really liked that. When Shelly’s extended family members saw how hard Shelly worked to get her family through this stressful situation and back into housing, and all the support she received from Haven House, they too became more supportive of her. Shelly has been an active participant in the Partners in Progress program and successfully maintained her housing for a year. We are so proud of Shelly!


All photos and videos are of actual former clients of Haven House. Some names have been changed.

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