Hixon House Adult Shelter opened its doors in June 2010
In 2004, though the Haven celebrated the doubling of space for families challenged by homelessness in the newly built Byrne House, it brought another fact into sharp relief: the Upper Valley desperately needed a shelter for those without children. At the time, the Haven received more than 200 calls a year from single adults seeking shelter.
While the search began for a suitable place to build such a shelter, another group created the 10 Bricks Cold Weather Program to provide emergency shelter in the months of worst weather. Spearheaded by Joi Finley and Tyler Blain of Tri-County Community Action Program and Jim Alberghini and Ruth Embry of LISTEN, 10 Bricks staff, board, and other volunteers protected the most vulnerable for six winters while waiting for this new Haven shelter to become a reality.
Former Haven board member Jay Davis remembers that wait as long and frustrating. “We had multiple setbacks; each new location we visited was unsuitable for one reason or another,” Jay explains. “Finally, Marilyn ‘Willy’ Black, who was president of the board at that time, said, ‘Since nobody wants us in their backyard, let’s put it in our own.’”
In October 2008, the Haven secured approval from the town of Hartford to construct the new adult shelter on the site of Hixon House, the original farmhouse that served as the first family shelter. The 7,000 square-foot, $1.4-million facility was a true community effort, funded by gifts from individuals, a $200,000 congressional grant obtained by U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy, and a $250,000 challenge grant from the Kresge Foundation. Completed in June 2010, the name Hixon House was renewed for the building in honor of Joan Hixon Martin, the founding board member who provided the initial funds to purchase the property in 1981.
The LEED energy-efficient building features ten bedrooms for 20 guests, seven individual bathrooms, offices for staff, a central kitchen and dining area, and welcoming public spaces. Most significantly, the Hixon House Adult Shelter allows the Haven to offer support and services—the same level of support and services provided to families at Byrne House—to adults and couples working to move forward in life.
Becky Hadley, Adult Programs Clinical Supervisor, shares, “Hixon House offers a welcoming and supportive environment where adults currently experiencing homelessness can work alongside staff to achieve personal goals, gain stability, and move forward toward permanent, sustainable housing.” Former guest, Russell, affirms, “It boils down to support. Support goes a lot further than people realize. It brings your self-esteem up; you believe ‘I can do this; I can do that.’ It calms you on the inside because you have support. People here [at the Haven], they give you the hope and the faith to try. I think a lot of people in this area don’t know what you guys do—you basically save lives. If this place wasn’t here, I’d be back drinking and I’d be worse. I’d almost bet my life on it.”