Residency begins with an intensive intake process. Potential residents are scored based on their answers to various questions about the history of the family. These topics range from previous domestic violence and alcohol and drug use to health issues and employment history. Based on their answers to these questions, potential residents are placed on a priority-based waiting list. Since opening at its present location in 2003, Samaritan House has maintained a consistent waiting list that hovered at 40-50 families. As of April 2012, the waiting list has approximately 150 families, each representing a child or children in need of a safe, decent, supportive place to call home.
Upon successful completion of the intake process residents are assigned a unit based on family size. Each of our units is a legally defined self-contained dwelling that includes full kitchen and bathroom facilities. Orientation in this unit includes expectations of cleanliness and compliance with house rules which include a curfew, quiet hours and participation in house chores, case management and wellness programming. Samaritan House is a drug and alcohol free facility.
During the first three months of residency, our residents are in a state of “Emergency Shelter.” This indicates that they are to be in a purposeful period of crisis de-escalation and resolution. These crises can range from financial problems to family and custody issues, as well as legal obligations. Cristina Clerico, case manager, works with each resident to determine their particular obstacles and challenges that prevented them from keeping their home prior to residency. Ms. Clerico strives to integrate the realities of life outside our walls into case management while working with residents to address the specific issues or obstacles that led to their homelessness; not what they should need. Each resident is unique, as are their challenges. This delicate balance ensures that upon graduation, residents are equipped with the tools needed to be successful renters or homeowners.
After completing the emergency shelter phase, residents enter into the transitional shelter phase of their stay. This is initiated with a $50.00 refundable deposit that will be returned to residents upon successful completion of the program. During this three-month period, residents are required to seek employment and begin an intensive financial saving program. This financial saving program requires that residents save 60% of their monthly income, which can be deposited in weekly or monthly installments. This “nest egg” that residents build during their stay can be used upon graduation to pay move-in costs (when required) at a new place of residency. Residents may choose to save more than the required amount, and often do, to their ultimate advantage. Just this year, one resident accumulated over $3,000.00 in savings and was able to pay one year’s worth of rent in her new apartment up front. This kind of financial foresight is an essential skill in the world outside Samaritan House and we do all we can do reward proactive saving!
The final phase of residency is known as transitional housing. During this phase of residency, Samaritan House becomes the legal landlord of the resident unit by entering into a lease agreement with the tenant (resident.) Rental rates for the units are determined by the adjusted income equation, provided by the Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD.) This equation adjusts the monthly income of the tenant to account for childcare, healthcare and employment transportation costs. Samaritan House then assigns rent at 40% of the tenant’s gross adjusted income, typically between $140 and $170. Entering into a lease agreement ensures that Samaritan House can, as a landlord, legally provide a reference for tenants upon graduation. This is also another area where Samaritan House mimics the circumstances of the real world, while maintaining a supportive dynamic.