Just weeks ago, Amos Shattock was homeless. Now, he has a brand new apartment in Germantown.
Shattock is a resident at the new permanent assistance living shelter My Place Germantown located on East Price Street near Baynton Street. The house has 12 efficiency apartments with kitchenettes, full closets and private baths in a recently renovated historic building. Two of the units are wheelchair-accessible and a third is accessible for the hearing or visually impaired.
My Place Germantown is unique. It’s unlike a traditional homeless shelter where men are taken in with the goal of getting them out. The men at My Place can stay there for as long as they want. The men are referred to My Place through various housing organizations, such as the U.S. Department of Housing or transitional housing or homeless shelters. The men must have a history of repeated homelessness and disabilities.
Shattock, for example, typically wandered the streets at night and slept in homeless shelters. He didn’t want to discuss the reasons that led to his homelessness, but he said he lived on the streets for years and would eat where free food was offered. Shattock said living at My Place takes a big burden off of his back.
“It’s just so relaxing…really,” Shattock said. “Now I don’t have to worry about where I’m going to sleep at night. I have my own nice, clean apartment.”
Mark Bielecki is the program director at My Place. He said the program’s focus is to get the men used to living a normal life by helping them ease their way back into society and independent living.
“Our goal is to empower the men the best we can, provide them with the skills to live independently,” Bielecki said. “A lot of these guys have never lived independently, or haven’t in a long time, so they need assistance with that transition.”
A part of that independence is paying rent. The men pay different amounts according to their income. They are also encouraged to work if possible. Because the men at My Place come from all walks of life, some of them have disabilities that prevent them from working.
If the men need extra assistance or attention, someone is there to provide on-site support 24 hours a day. A community health nurse visits weekly to monitor residents with chronic illnesses, provide routine inoculations, conduct wellness assessments and offer health education.
Nelson Troche is a caseworker intern from La Salle University. He has been with My Place for several weeks. His job is to help the men succeed outside of the home and in the community. He helps them locate public transportation, churches, community organizations and other facilities in Germantown.
“We expect our guys to become a part of the community and active in the community in however way they define,” Troche said. “We hope to partner with local residents to make this a good experience for everyone involved.”
Troche said My Place is different from standard homeless shelters because it’s a restored home, designed to fit in with the rest of the houses on the street and in the neighborhood.
“We have quite a large home here in Germantown. Our presence is known in the community,” Troche said. “So we’d like to not only help the men inside of the home but also in the community as well.”
My Place is for men only. However, Bielecki said if the facility continues to do well, it’s expected that a similar home for women will open. The ultimate goal is to have houses similar to My Place all over the community.
So far, eight out of 12 of the apartments are occupied. Bielecki said there is room for four more men. He is working on filling the rest of the rooms as needed and is working to provide men like Shattock with a stable and healthy life.
Shattock said he loves his new apartment and it’s starting to feel more and more like his own place.
“It’s just so much better than living on the streets,” Shattock said.
For more information, visit myplacegermantown.org.