The Safe Haven Model & Stabilization Bed Program
Providing shelter on terms that clients can accept
At BRC, our clients are our customers and our most critical stakeholders. We want to understand the choices they make. We see them as our customers, and we take time to listen. For years, our unsheltered homeless clients told us what they like about the streets is the independence; they aren’t ready for sobriety, don’t like rules (such as curfews) that apply in shelters; and they don’t want to sleep in chairs (at drop-in centers that don’t have beds).
Time and again they told us: give me a bed to sleep in, don’t force me to get sober, and don’t impose a lot of structure on me, and I’ll come in. So we did, and they did; that was 12 years ago.
In 2006, with a grant from the Betty and Norman F. Levy Foundation, and in partnership with Mayor Bloomberg's Fund for NYC, BRC developed an innovative response to the needs and desires of the so-called “service resistant” homeless. We took a room in what was our drop-in center and built a dorm. We replaced chairs with beds. We eliminated curfews and said people could come and go as they pleased. We did not require sobriety, though we did say we would not allow any alcohol, drugs or fighting in the building.
We had only one expectation: that these clients not only transition off the streets and subways, but that they continue to transition into housing.
We called the program Safe Haven, and in the first 18 months of operation, 67 “service resistant” homeless individuals, with an average of over 8 years living unsheltered, came in for services. And of that initial pilot group, 17 progressed on to housing, many getting sober along the way.
This achievement led the City to adopt and replicate the model. Today, over 1,200 Safe Haven beds are in service citywide, along with hundreds of Stabilization Beds, a variant for clients seeking and needing less supervision and structure.
BRC operates more than 200 Safe Haven beds and another 600 Stabilization Beds. In the ten years since we launched these innovative models, 1,372 homeless men and women have moved through our Safe Haven and Stabilization beds and into their own homes.