The Wells/Robertson House provides transitional housing for homeless men and women who have undergone alcohol/drug treatment or received other professional counseling and wish to break the cycle of homelessness and addiction. The City also employs a Homeless Advocate who gives referrals and assistance to people on the streets. Federal, state, and county grants as well as contributions from the community fund a portion of this activity so that residents can be offered the amenities of a home while preparing themselves for clean and sober, independent living in the community.
The Homeless Assistance Program in the City of Gaithersburg is overseen by Jimmy Frazier-Bey, the City's Homeless Advocate. His office is in the Wells/Robertson House located at 1 Wells Avenue. The House is the City's transitional facility for homeless men and women who are in recovery from chemical addiction.
The staff of Wells/Robertson House also tries to assist individuals in active addiction in accessing treatment and related services. A key component to the program is utilizing case management strategies for collaboration and partnering with outside agencies, businesses, and the community to address the myriad of concerns and challenges the residents of the program face.
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 in other areas of the county that were being used by former residents of Gaithersburg who had become homeless. The City was also helping to fund a local 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 Advocate was to help people access the services they needed in order to get back into housing. A priority was to get addicts and alcoholics into addiction treatment. 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 of operation, the Homeless Advocate admitted 15 men and two women to long-term alcohol/drug treatment programs. Since then, his services have become well known in Olde Towne. Now homeless persons are walking into Wells/Robertson House from the street to talk about available treatment and housing. As of December, 1998, the Advocate had admitted 104 people into 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.
The Homeless Advocate also liaisons with 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 staff receives calls from citizens with concerns about homeless persons, 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 supply. The DeSellum House is home to five men who have completed the transitional phase at Wells/Robertson House. This program also utilizes the Case Management strategy; a Case Manager visits the House daily to meet with clients to help them move forward to self sufficiency.