A Safe Haven is now a national model for social and economic development. In 2013, Neli Vazquez-Rowland was recognized as a “Champion of Change” by the White House for creating one of America's most successful organizations dealing with homelessness, unemployment, and addiction.
Success begets success. A Safe Haven has recently turned its attention to helping veterans as well—Brian Rowland himself is an Army veteran—partnering with the VA to offer housing, warm meals, employment, and other services to Chicago's homeless veterans.
The organization has come a long way from what the Rowlands envisioned in 1994 when they first bought and rehabbed an abandoned apartment building, turning it into a residential treatment facility. Their plan was to rent out apartments to people who were recovering from drug or alcohol addiction for a year, and then sell the renovated building when the market improved. But that plan changed when the Rowlands saw the impact they were making. So they continued to offer housing and services to people in recovery, financing operations out of their own pockets.
Over time, and as more people showed up at A Safe Haven in need of housing and recovery services, the Rowlands saw that to really help people help themselves, A Safe Haven would need to provide residents with a comprehensive, integrated path to self-sufficiency and independence. All that they could personally give to A Safe Haven would still ...