Weâ€™re considered the country’s leading residential self-help organization for substance abusers, ex-convicts, homeless and others who have hit bottom. Our average resident has been a hard-core drug addict for sixteen years, abusing alcohol and multiple drugs and has dropped out of school at the 7th grade and has been institutionalized several times. Many have been gang members; most have been trapped in poverty for several generations. Rather than hire experts to help the people with problems, we decided to run Delancey Street with no staff and no funding. Like a large family, our residents must learn to develop their strengths and help each other. Itâ€™s an approach to changing lives that is â€œagainst all oddsâ€.
We said we were going to take ex-convicts and ex-addicts and teach them to be teachers, general contractors, and truck drivers. They said it couldnâ€™t be done. We said we were going to take 250 people who had never worked and had no skills and teach them to build a 400,000 square foot complex as our new home on the waterfront. They said it couldnâ€™t be done. We said we were going to partner with colleges and get people who started out functionally illiterate to achieve bachelor of arts degrees. They said it couldnâ€™t be done. We said we were going to run successful restaurants, moving companies, furniture making, and cafÃ©s and bookstores without any professional help. They said it couldnâ€™t be done. We said we were going to do all this with no staff, no government funding, and no professionals. They laughed and said it couldnâ€™t be done.
We struggle a lot but weâ€™ve been doing it. For over 40 years weâ€™ve been developing a model of social entrepreneurship, of education, of rehabilitation and change that is exciting and full of hope. If you need help, or want to help, please contact us. Most of all, we hope you can feel as inspired by ordinary peopleâ€™s abilities to achieve extraordinary accomplishments as weâ€™ve been.
ENTER WITH A HISTORY, LEAVE WITH A FUTURE