With the impending winter storm, Opportunity House will provide a safe and warm place for homeless families to live this winter. Opportunity House announced that it has begun operating a short-term housing program on January 2, 2024.
Recognizing the Need for Short-Term Housing in Berks County
“Funding for the project was approved on December 28 and we opened our doors on January 2,” noted Modesto Fiume, president, Opportunity House. “This is a great example of collaboration, cooperation and teamwork in our community.” The Mayor and City Council were committed to finding a solution for short-term housing needs for families with children. Working with Berks Coalition to End Homelessness, Daniel Torres Hispanic Center, and the City’s Community Development Department, we were able to implement a plan quickly and efficiently. “Having a responsive landlord who worked diligently to get the building ready for us was extremely helpful,” noted Fiume.
The need for short-term housing is real. Because of our proven record of working successfully with homeless individuals and families, Opportunity House can respond and provide housing to these families, many of whom are experiencing homelessness for the first time.
When temperatures drop below 32 degrees at night, a Code Blue alert is declared and Opportunity House and Berks Coalition to End Homelessness work together to eliminate individuals and families from living outdoors or in cars.
Families with Children Struggle to Find Short-Term Housing
Families need immediate help and can’t wait weeks for housing or go through a protracted approval process for the help they need. “We are addressing the immediate needs in our community. When people call us, we provide housing that day,” noted Fiume.
Each family unit has their own room. This helps families feel emotionally secure and connected during their journey through homelessness. “Many families are experiencing homelessness for the first time. It’s both comforting and reassuring for them to stay together,” noted Fiume. By providing short-term housing, children remain in school creating much-needed stability and continuity in their lives.
During their stay at Opportunity House facilities, clients receive onsite, case management services, life skills training, and access to resources to promote long-term housing stability. Opportunity House has an experienced full-time housing case manager to work with clients to create a plan to secure permanent housing. “By providing onsite case management, we can quickly address issues and help clients overcome barriers that may prevent clients from becoming stably housed. We help clients make lasting change for long-term success,” said Fiume.
Providing Solutions for Short-Term Emergency Shelter Since 1984
The early days of Opportunity House came into being in 1984 after a man froze to death in Reading. Today, as Opportunity House celebrates its 40th anniversary, it continues to be the community’s primary resource providing emergency shelter to over 500 clients each year. “Our goal is to stabilize individuals and families and help them find permanent housing.”
Opportunity House is a Keystone 4-star Early Childhood Learning Center with programs for newborns, preschool, and after-school programs. The Pre-K Counts program ensures that every child meets the requirements for kindergarten. Over 125 families benefit from the program by providing quality daycare to low-income families, allowing parents to work, and provide economic stability for their families. The Second Street Learning Center accepts children from 6 weeks to 13 years. They provide a Summer Camp program to provide continuous learning throughout the summer break.
Opportunity House provides housing for over 100 clients through their transitional and permanent housing programs. These programs offer long-term support as part of the extended Opportunity House community.
Do You Need Shelter?
For families with children needing emergency shelter, please contact Kim Hartman, 610-858-4749. For men, women, and Veterans who need shelter, please call Frank at 610-374-4696 ext 236.