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Mission & History

Our Mission

We affirm the value of human dignity and self-respect for every person. We are called by our collective spiritual and social responsibility to serve all people in need—the homeless, disadvantaged, disabled, unemployed, and oppressed. Our goal is to enhance societal and personal advancement through provision of housing and support services that empower individuals and families to reach their fullest potential.

Emmaus helps people rebuild their lives by creating and renewing a sense of community.

Our History

In 1986, with support from more than 200 volunteers and 30 faith groups, Emmaus purchased a vacant multi-family property at 105 Winter Street in Haverhill for use as an emergency shelter. The purchase and build-out of this shelter, Emmaus House, launched the organization into affordable housing development. In 1988 the agency purchased a 5,200 square foot structure and converted it into 14 single occupancy rooms (Gilead House) for homeless adults with disabilities and substance abuse histories.

Emmaus secured its first 5-year grant from HUD for the Bethel Transitional Housing Program in 1992. Emmaus purchased a 32-unit apartment complex and in 1998 opened the George C. Wadleigh Center, an 18,000 square foot, 4-story facility located in the heart of the Welcome Street neighborhood. The building serves homeless individuals and is home to Mitch’s Place, Jericho House Safe Haven, Bethel Business Center, and the Housing Assistance/Stabilization Program. Funding for the Wadleigh Center came from over 12 public and private sources plus hundreds of contributors to the $1 Million “Rebuilding Lives” campaign.

In 1998, Emmaus completed the Emerson Street Shelter Plus Care Project, which provides 13 units of housing to formerly homeless adults with mental disabilities and/or a history of drug addiction. Project funds came from public and private sources, including $163,900 in HOME funds and a $40,000 AHP grant from the Federal Home Loan Bank.

In 1999, Emmaus began the process of securing funds to convert the Emmaus House shelter into six units of permanent affordable housing for disabled homeless women. The building was renovated and completely occupied by 2002. That year Emmaus also opened the Emmaus Family House, a 16,000 square foot facility located in the center of the Welcome Street neighborhood, to provide emergency shelter to homeless families. Public and private funding sources along with businesses, charitable trusts, and individuals supported the project, including over $350,000 from the “Everybody Matters” capital campaign. Today up to 28 families concurrently receive shelter, meals, supportive services, and housing assistance in this facility. Another 26 homeless families live independently in shared apartments and receive services while they seek permanent housing.

Emmaus first received federal HOPWA (Housing Opportunities for People with AIDS/HIV) funds in 2005 to establish a housing information and rental assistance program for people living with AIDS/HIV. In 2006, Emmaus expanded Gilead House to include apartments for DMH clients ready for more independent living. That year Emmaus also completed Applewood Apartments, four units of permanent affordable housing for homeless families. In 2007, with funding from the George C. Wadleigh Foundation, a six-unit expansion to Jericho House Safe Haven was completed.

Emmaus was named “Champion in Action” by Citizens Bank and New England Cable News (NECN) in 2008 for its work in affordable housing development. Later that year, Emmaus initiated a major expansion of the Bethel Business Center. The physical space was completely renovated and the curriculum was redesigned to meet the needs of today’s adult learners. The Center now offers classes for adults in all Emmaus programs and community members in life skills, financial literacy, adult basic education (English and math), GED preparation, English as a Second Language, computer skills training (Microsoft Office, Internet), and job readiness (resume preparation, interview skills, etc.).

Work on Evergreen Place, a 20 unit Single Person Occupancy affordable permanent rental project for homeless older adults, was completed in 2009. Each unit provides a private expanded bedroom, bath, and kitchenette with kitchen and laundry areas on each floor. The building includes a one-bedroom live-in manager’s unit that is tied into affordability. The following year, Emmaus purchased a two-family house adjacent to the Emmaus Family House at 115 Emerson Street. The building was renovated to create two 2-bedroom affordable rental units for homeless families and was occupied in spring 2013.

In 2012 Emmaus received a Supportive Housing Initiative grant from the MA Department of Housing and Community Development to establish 10 units of supportive affordable housing for formerly homeless families coming out of shelter. In 2015 funding for another 16 affordable apartments with attached supportive services was secured.

In 2012, Emmaus purchased 101 Winter Street in Haverhill, a property consisting commercial office space, storage facilities, and vacant lots. In 2013 Emmaus organized the agency’s expanded food bank and donation center in the storage area. In 2016 the building was renovated and became the D’Youville Center for Social Justice. Today, parent empowerment programs, financial literacy classes, and job search assistance take place in this building. Presently the building is undergoing a second major renovation to complete exterior improvements and create program space for the Emmaus Explorers afterschool and summer educational enrichment program.

Emmaus continues to expand services to meet the needs of struggling individuals and families in the community. We continue purchasing and renovating properties in order to create more affordable housing targeting homeless families with incomes below 30% of area median income (defined by HUD as extremely low-income households). To date, in 2017 we have purchased four additional apartments. Our work has been recognized as a model for helping homeless women, men, and children transition to stable housing and lives. Over the past decade, Emmaus has consistently received statewide recognition for moving the greatest number of homeless families out of emergency shelter and into permanent housing, Last year alone, Emmaus placed 150 families into permanent housing and diverted another 300 high-risk families from entering emergency shelter by stabilizing them in their current housing or finding them new housing.