Apologies to City and Borough of Juneau staff, concerned citizens and neighbors, and friends of Haven House for any mistakes I made as Haven House, Inc. secretary that led to the characterization of Haven House as a halfway house. We appreciate that the city appeal process will provide us an opportunity to correct errors.
The Haven House board understood that Haven House was not a halfway house by any definition we knew. Imagine our surprise when the city denied our application for a group home on the grounds that we were actually a halfway house. Haven House, Inc. does not intend to operate a halfway house and never intended to operate a halfway house.
But this letter isn’t about the legal distinctions that will be addressed in the appeal. Instead I would like to explain to the public what Haven House is.
Haven House will be a safe home for carefully selected women who have been released from prison. These are women who already can (and do) live in Juneau wherever they can find a place. The more fortunate may be taken in by family members. But many do not have that option. Haven House exists to provide a safe home focused on emotional healing. Haven House won’t be for everyone. Corrections and probation officers will recommend those women who have evidenced a sincere desire and ability to change their lives. Haven House board and staff will interview applicants further. Those selected as Haven House participants will be a select few. They will have demonstrated to trained observers (probation/parole officers) that they are motivated to change their lives. They will have invested some effort in the application process. They will have agreed that they understand and will abide by house rules. They will have signed agreements that allow Haven House to share information about them with probation/parole officers, and allows probation/parole officers to share information with Haven House. This will not be casual drop-in housing.
Haven House participants won’t be on their own. The Haven House community will provide mutual support. Haven House staff will provide the same kind of suggestions and support that people would get from a loving family. They will get referrals to services held elsewhere like church communities, 12-step programs, life skills and job training, anger management, and healthy relationships. The more experienced participants will guide those newly released with additional mentoring by Haven House staff and volunteers. Volunteers will join Haven House participants for meals and community events. A “house mother” will live in the home with Haven House participants to provide after hours support and maintain the house rules. Haven House participants will be accountable to staff/volunteers/peers, and also to probation/parole Officers. Visitation by the participants’ friends will not be allowed, and even legal family visitation will be limited to help participants succeed.
Haven House, Inc. is a nonprofit organization focused on safety and healing for women coming out of prison, with the understanding that faith-based re-entry programs have proven to have better outcomes than secular alternatives. But our board and staff are also members of the Juneau community. We don’t want Haven House to threaten anyone. We don’t want to make you or your children fearful, or hurt neighborhood property values. We intend for Haven House to be an asset to the community. We will keep the lawn mowed and the house painted and we will make home improvements. We will model Christian values and actions that you will want your children to emulate.
We currently have an opening on the Haven House board, and we would love to have a board member from the neighborhood. Please give us a call if you are interested. Also know we are planning an informational meeting for the neighborhood, and will distribute invitations shortly. We hope our neighbors will join us and learn more about Haven House. (We will have further informational meetings for the general public, but our first informational meeting will focus on addressing the concerns of our neighbors.)
• Larry Talley is board secretary of Haven House, Inc.