Non-profit spotlight: Hope Haven

By Robert Baird

Children account for a quarter of the entire homeless population nationwide.

According to Hope Haven, 1145 Rushmoore Drive, a 2007 study stated families with children make up 41 percent of the American homeless population.

Since its founding in 1990, the nonprofit organization has been dedicated to helping homeless community members in DeKalb get on their feet. It has three housing programs and a day program designed to help struggling homeless people become self-sufficient.

“We serve about 40,000 meals every year, being DeKalb’s only homeless shelter,” said executive director Lesly Wicks. “That’s a little less than 100 meals served every night.”

Hope Haven’s emergency shelter make available transitional housing programs.

“Our transitional housing programs offer two-year assistance for eligible families,” said ShanaRae Weeks, a case manager at Hope Haven. “The emergency shelter houses families for up to 90 days.”

Hope Haven has 26 people living in its Dresser Court permanent housing project, 965 W. Dresser Road, a place for homeless people with disabilities.

“There are three goals here at the Dresser Court Project,” said Regina Curry, a case manager at Hope Haven. “We hope to improve the resident’s quality of life, along with educational achievement and/or amount of monetary income of the residents, while also improving their overall well-being.”

According to Hope Haven, about 25 percent of American homeless people are mentally ill. About 25 percent of homeless are substance abusers, with some overlap between the two groups. Hope Haven stresses that with access to services and treatment, many of the homeless can become self-sufficient.

Monetary donations are tax deductible. Hope Haven also accepts food, furniture and household items for donations.

“Our budget is $1 million a year,” Wicks said. “Even small fundraisers like bake sales and car washes help us achieve that goal throughout the year. Every little bit helps.”

Hope Haven is supported by United Way, as well as other local and federal agencies. About 45 percent of its funding is from the federal government, and about 30 percent comes from private donations. The remaining support consists mostly of state, local and United Way funding, Wicks said.

Community members are encouraged to volunteer and/or donate to Hope Haven at

To learn more myths and facts about the homeless, visit