The facility was developed in response to concerns merchants in Olde Towne Gaithersburg had about the alcoholics and addicts on the streets. The City was already helping to fund shelters and a soup kitchen. A Task Force was formed to survey the street population of the City and explore options. The Task Force recommended the hiring of a Homeless Advocate to work with the people on the streets. The Task Force also pointed out the need for a transitional facility to house the homeless alcoholics and addicts when they completed treatment.
In his first year, the Homeless Advocate admitted 15 men and two women to long term alcohol/drug treatment programs. Street outreach is now conducted by a two-man team, and we now have homeless persons walking in off the street to talk about available treatment and housing. As of June 2013, 202 people have been admitted to treatment who then came into Wells/Robertson House. Many more have been given other services related to food, shelter, clothing, and basic needs, or placed into treatment to aid them into transitioning back into the community
Wells/Robertson House is the only facility of this kind in all of Montgomery County. It is one of only two in the entire state of Maryland.
The residents of the House are required to:
- Have full-time employment, do volunteer work or be in job training/school
- Pay service fee
- Work to pay off debts and eventually open a savings account in their own names
- Do chores to maintain the House
- Attend a 12-step meeting daily
- Obtain a sponsor and do 12-step service work
- Learn whatever daily living skills are necessary
Wells/Robertson House opened in December, 1988. During the past 24 years of operations, a dedicated staff has seen 535 people as residents in the program. Successful outcomes are measured in three areas: residential stability, increased skills and income, and greater self determination. In regards to residential stability, 13 out of 18, (72%) of the residents who entered the program during the 2012 operating year attained employment and three received disability income. Data from the increased skills and income section reported that 15 out of the 18 people who entered the program during the last operating year increased their income by $500, and all of the people who stayed at least four months opened a savings account. 12 residents stayed in the program more than six months – seven of those residents are now in permanent housing and remain clean and sober, one year after leaving the program.
These outcome measures are the criteria upon which we base our definition of success.
The goal of the House is to provide people with a clean, safe, sober, long-term environment in which to pull their lives back together, become committed to a program of recovery and learn the skills necessary to allow them to become independent, sober, contributing members of the community.
The Street Outreach Team serves as a liaison to City merchants to educate them about panhandling and addiction and to help them with problems they may be having with the homeless population. In addition, the program receives calls from citizens with concerns about homeless people, and responds to those concerns.
DeSellum House is the City’s long-term facility for homeless men who have successfully completed the Wells/Robertson House program, but need a structured living environment for longer than the two-year period that Wells can provide. DeSellum House is home to five men who have completed the transitional phase at Wells. This program also uses the Case Management strategy, with a Case Manager visiting the house daily to meet with clients and help them move towards self-sufficiency.