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Homeless Find Safe Haven in Westport

Supportive housing a nationwide rarity in affluent areas

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Westport, CT | Added on March 26, 2014 At 07:33 PM

In a town of multi-million dollar homes, you might not expect to be neighbors with the homeless.

"I really didn't know what I was going to do.  And then at the final hour I get a call from a staff member saying there is a bed," said Homes for Hope resident, Joan Scordamaglia.

"I think the most disturbing thing I found is that while we provide 19 beds we have another waitlist of five to 10 people every night," said Homes for Hope Programs Director Rob Lockhart.

There are 30 homes scattered across Westport serving the homeless community.

"There are 2 mothers here, and another 2 in the third house here," explained President of Homes for Hope, Jeff Weiser. 

Only three other affluent towns across America have supportive homes like these.  

"If this was more of a suburban response to a national problem, I think there would be a lot less homelessness," said Weiser.

Just 30 percent of the non-profit's funds come from the government, with volunteers and donations playing a big role.

"This is the Linxweiler House," pointed out Weiser.

Like this house here, gifted to the town in 1981.  Homes for hope now pays a dollar a year for rent.

"You get it done in a town like this where the town is invested and the town is involved.  And you can take care of your own problems and not send those problems out to the city, you will have a much better chance of helping the people that need help," continued Weiser.

Now homeowners might be thinking: What's going to happen to the res-sale value of my house?  Well, in Westport on West End Avenue there is a house for sale, right next to a supportive housing unit.  And, get this: it's selling for $200,000 more than it sold in 2001. 

"People may go out and say, oh Westport people- they come from money and everything else. But, it couldn't be in a better location.  You have all the resources.  You have a library," explained Homes for Hope resident, Joan Scordamaglia.

As long as places like here offer the support and tehy have the services available to help, the oppotunity is there for anyone to better themselves," said Homes for Hope resident, James Beckett. 

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