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Project Hope for the Homeless celebrates 30th anniversary

Project Hope for the Homeless celebrates 30th anniversary

In the early 1990s, an ecumenical group of leaders from churches, community governments, and area leaders were called to a meeting by the Catholic Commission of Lake and Geauga Counties to discuss the growing problem of homelessness in Lake County.

What transpired was the creation of the Ecumenical Shelter Network of Lake County, known as Project Hope for the Homeless, that operated a temporary, seasonal shelter in local churches starting on Valentine’s Day in 1993.

Project Hope for the Homeless moved into its own building in 2001 at 25 Freedom Road in Painesville Township.and has grown to a year-round program operating 365 days a year. In 2007, aftercare services were added to help our guests remain stable upon transition to housing.

In December 2014, Families Moving Forward moved into a separate wing of the shelter after the new family center and expansion project was completed to increase the number of beds available from 25 to 50 each night.

In 2019, Project Hope for the Homeless began an offsite three-unit transitional housing program for seniors ages 62 and older, who find themselves homeless. This program, named the Senior Care Program – Hope House, was initiated with a $25,000 grant from the Cleveland Foundation and has been sustained by the Lake County Senior Levy.

In 2022, the organization was able to complete the payoff of its mortgage on the Freedom Road property and own the building outright with no debt.

Project Hope for the Homeless has served more than 8,500 guests during the past 30 years.

Its mission is to respectfully and compassionately empower persons who are homeless with hope by providing emergency and transitional shelter, care and guidance together with the community and offers these four programs:

  • Adult Shelter: an overnight shelter for up to 38 adults
  • Families Moving Forward: a daytime and evening shelter for families in a separate wing of the shelter for up to 12 people
  • Senior Care Program – Hope House: an offsite 24-hour senior transitional home for up to three guests who are 62 and older
  • Aftercare: a voluntary support program for former guests that has significantly reduced recidivism.

The shelter serves guests from Lake, Geauga, Ashtabula, and Cuyahoga counties and served 329 guests in 2022 including 43 children.

“One of the greatest blessings of longevity is hearing from past guests about their lives today,” said Executive Director Judy Burr. “A recent call came from a sports broadcaster of the Browns. He lived in the shelter in the 90s.”

An amazing 86% of guests in 2022 positively transitioned to their own housing or entered in-person behavioral health treatment within an average stay of 30 days.

Our staff treats each person with compassion and respect, and a trauma-informed approach to provide the tools needed to help guests get to the root of their homelessness, set and achieve goals to become self-sufficient.

There also are four ways for the public to connect with Project Hope for the Homeless including volunteering, financial donations and/or supplies, providing meals, and participating in special projects.

For more information about these ways to connect and to learn more about Project Hope for the Homeless, visit