The Hope House
Hancock County Organization Assists the Community Through Homeless Shelter & Thrift Store
Writer / Madeleine Mills-Craig
Photographer / Belinda Russell
Hancock County established its first homeless center, the Hope House, in 1991. The shelter was made out of the desire to help those without a permanent address.
“We generally take most people,” says Angie Lyon, program coordinator. “The exception being if you are physically disabled, we aren’t really set up with that. Everything must be able to work a minimum of part-time.”
The shelter is set up as a transitional housing system. Everyone who is accepted into the program is expected to participate in the program and be willing to follow set rules.
“My goal is to look for long term sustainable solutions,” Lyon says. “Our goal is to set them up in a way that they wouldn’t have to experience homelessness again.”
In addition to following the program, participants are expected to abide by a curfew, complete chores, maintain a job or part-time job and abstain from alcohol. Lyon says the program provides the necessary skills to help participants succeed once they leave the shelter.
“They participate in the budgeting system,” Lyon says. “We put them on a budget, they build a saving plan while they’re with us and they pay off debt. We offer cooking. We offer a voluntary Bible study. We offer a recovery class. We offer a nutrition program, so learning how to cook and then we partnered with the hospital to program different programs. Aspire comes in and does free and confidential HIV and hepatitis testing. So that’s a variety of things that we offer.”
The Hope House provides shelter, food, and lighting that is completely free to individuals. Because of this, it can be difficult to determine when someone can get into the program.
“We generally try to accept people when we have beds available,” Lyon says. “No one really gets put on a strict timeline. They also could have hiccups along the way. They come back and tested positive for a substance and they’re not ready for rehab, then that could open up a bed. It’s hard to say.”
In order to sustain the program and keep it free of cost, the organization relies heavily on donations and the thrift store adjacent to the center.
“We have a thrift store that resells items and helps with operating costs,” Lyon says.
Although the organization is dependent on case by case situations, Lyon says that for emergency situations, the house will often time refer out to other organizations that are better suited for the situations. These places are, but not limited to, the Salvation Army and Wheeler mission.
When participants are able to leave, the shelter will sometimes follow up on them.
“We follow people when they leave the program and sometimes even help before they enter the program,” Lyon says. “We don’t follow everyone, [it] depends on how they left. Do they still want their help or involved in Hope House?”
The shelter can house up to 35 individuals. The male wing has 15 beds in a large open room in addition to the lounge. The women wing is made up of five college dorm-like rooms that each contain four beds.
“I think we offer a safe and structured environment for people to have a chance or to take a break from the realities of life and they’re able to get on their feet,” Lyon says.
Hancock Hope House is located at 35 E Pierson St in Greenfield. For more information, call 317-467-4991 or visit them online at hancockhopehouse.org.