In the winter of 1981, a man living on the streets of Reading perished in the cold. The next winter, it happened again. In 1983, as cold weather approached, local churches sheltered men with nowhere to go in a desperate bid to save lives. By November 1984, the Reading Emergency Shelter at 430 North Second Street opened its doors to homeless men—just in time for winter.
Today, we’re Opportunity House, a name that reflects the diversity of our programs to help our most vulnerable neighbors rebuild their lives. Our 75-bed emergency shelter operates year-round and serves families, women, and veterans as well as men. In 2019, we served 531 men, women, and children.
Successful clients stay at the shelter 30-60 days and meet regularly with their case managers to rebuild purposeful, self-sufficient lives. In 2017, 30 of 37 families (80%), 43 of 69 single women (62%), and 68 of 116 single men (58%) re-joined the community, with safe housing and a source of income to sustain it. From November to early April—the bitter-cold “Code Blue” season—our doors are open from 7 pm to 7 am to those outside our program to escape the cold.
Families in our supportive housing programs live in apartments and townhouses close to Opportunity House. To qualify for these programs, individuals and families must successfully complete our shelter program and put 30% of their monthly income towards rent and utilities.
Our supportive housing programs serves families that make positive changes in our emergency shelter but are not ready to transition to the community. This program provides safe, affordable housing to formerly homeless individuals and families, including those with physical and/or mental disabilities.
Our supportive housing programs include:
- Case management services to assist with daily living activities
- Counseling to help clients set manageable goals
- Assistance with resume writing and job interviewing skills
- Mental health and drug and alcohol treatment services
- Transportation to and from medical appointments when needed
- Money management to help clients clear debt, learn to budget and save a portion of their income to prepare for independent living
- Childcare through the Second Street Learning Center to ensure that clients are able to work any shift
- Aftercare for those who move back into the community and wish to receive continued assistance from their case manager