Even on a short tour of its supportive housing units in Westport and Norwalk, it is clear that Homes with Hope lives up to its name in the hearts of its residents — and its president, Jeff Wieser.
“These are places where people can catch their breath and get back on their feet,” said the Westport resident. “We’re able to get more than 80 people into beds every night.”
Homes with Hope is an organization providing local homeless people with more than 30 structured housing units that allow them to remain independent and self-sufficient.
Each tenant is assigned a case worker by the organization and is responsible for paying 30 percent of his or her income as rent. The homes are discreetly blended into the local community so they can feel like regular residents. They also can look like them. Driving around Westport, Wieser pointed out clients tending to daily tasks like taking out the garbage and driving to work.
“I spend half my time convincing people that Westport has homeless people,” Wieser said. “The fact that we can take care of these individuals speaks very well of the community.”
In addition to its housing units, Homes with Hope has a food pantry and emergency shelter that sleeps 10-15 people. Since it’s between Matsui Sushi and the Westport Police Department, you might not even know it was a shelter, which could work to its benefit.
“If you make the housing units nice, people will respect them,” Wieser said.
Before Wieser became the president of Homes with Hope in 2010, he spent 30 years in international banking. Wieser’s most recent position was a senior relationship manager at HSBC.
“I figured it was time to go more local,” Wieser said of his career move. “It’s a little bit different from what I was doing, but a lot more rewarding.”