Halfway houses provide people who are in need with a temporary place to live while they secure work and try to get back on their feet. These temporary living situations can serve a variety of populations including the homeless, abused women, recovering addicts, recently released convicts or other groups in need. Halfway houses can be found in many cities and states across the U.S. including the state of Minnesota. While you may know of halfway houses already in existence in the North Star State, need exists for even more. You can help individuals get back on their feet by learning how to start a halfway house in Minnesota.
Find support. Speak with community leaders, activists, nonprofit directors, business owners and average citizens in your community about starting a halfway house in your city or area of Minnesota. Explain how the halfway house will operate and what population they will serve. Use statistics to show proof for the need for a halfway house serving that particular population in your area. Ask individuals interested in helping to establish and support the halfway house to serve on your committee. Begin meeting on a regular basis to set up and manage the home.
Register as a nonprofit. Using your committee, draft by-laws governing the committee and the halfway house as an organization. Determine the procedures for choosing a board of directors to oversee the halfway house, and follow these procedures to get your initial group of board of directors. Complete the forms required by the Internal Revenue Service to register your halfway house in Minnesota as a nonprofit organization and obtain tax exempt status at the federal level. Register with the Minnesota state government to also have tax-exempt status at the state level. This allows you to purchase supplies and goods for the halfway house tax free since Minnesota charges sales tax on all items sold in the state. It also allows individuals to make tax deductible contributions to your organization, which often encourages them to donate more since they can write it off on their taxes.
Acquire funding. Apply for grants to cover the start-up and operating costs of your halfway house in Minnesota. Network with directors of other halfway houses in the state to learn what grants and funding sources they used in the establishment of their organizations as many of these groups may still be providing grant funding for starting a halfway house. Understand that different grants may be available depending upon the population you are serving with your halfway house in Minnesota. Check with the Minnesota Department of Housing and Urban Development to learn if any state funding can cover a percentage of the expenses associated with your halfway house. Hold fundraisers to bring in money from community members, or ask for monetary assistance from wealthy donors and philanthropists in your city.
Find a facility. Seek out a facility in your community appropriate for serving as a halfway house. Look for a building with multiple apartments or rooms that provide individuals with a private or semi-private living space as well as rooms capable of holding meetings and supporting a group living environment. Check with the city zoning board to ensure the facility is properly zoned for multiple dwellings and is not in a single-family, residential zoned area. Purchase the property if funding exists as this allows you to renovate and change the property to fit the needs of your organization.
Obtain supplies and equipment. Determine what furniture you need for your halfway house. Appeal to the community for donations, or partner with a thrift store to obtain furniture they receive as donations for free or a discounted rate. Buy initial disposable products needed to operate the home such as cleaning supplies, food and toiletries. Make a plan for how these will be purchased and replaced in the future.
Determine house specifics. Decide how people will be chosen to live in the halfway house as well as what time frame exists for how long they can stay there. Set rules that residents must follow including any curfew times or chores they must complete. Develop a procedure for addressing any problems with residents as well as dismissing them if they violate the rules or fail to meet the requirements to continue living in the halfway house. Establish a schedule for the house that details meal times as well as when group activities will occur for the residents. Plan to hold at least one group house meeting each week to discuss any issues concerning the operation of the halfway house with all residents at the same time.
Hire staff. Place advertisements in local newspapers in Minnesota or on popular career websites such as CareerBuilder, Monster and Indeed to recruit employees to work at your halfway house. Search for employees with experience working in the human services field or nonprofit sector with transitional populations, such as battered women, recently released convicts or homeless people. If your halfway house provides healthcare or counseling services, make sure that you hire staff that have the appropriate credentials and licenses required by the state of Minnesota. Provide all employees with training in safety and self defense, since violence can erupt at any moment given the transient population being served. Training should also cover how to handle a variety of emergency situations such as fire, illness or natural disasters.
Connect with community agencies. Network with professionals from other nonprofit agencies and organizations in your community that can be of assistance to the residents in your halfway house. Individuals residing in a halfway home often need assistance in finding a job, locating a permanent residence and dealing with personal problems. Refer clients with specific needs to the agencies in your community that can help with specific problems as this helps the resident make progress in your program and get back on their own two feet.
Open your halfway house. Once established, open the doors of your halfway house in Minnesota to provide a place to stay for the transitional population you serve. Accept clients to live at your halfway house based on the guidelines you created when establishing your organization and its policies. Promote your halfway house to individuals and organizations who can refer individuals to you. For example, police officers, medical professionals and the domestic abuse hotline are the individuals and groups most likely to refer battered women to your halfway house if that’s the clientele you serve.