NORWALK, Connecticut – A Norwalk organization that has helped more than 600 mothers and babies transition from homelessness to stability and independence is kicking off a $4 million fundraising campaign to expand its service and assist more women.
The nonprofit Malta House, Connecticut’s only transitional living program for vulnerable women and babies over the age of 18, is raising funds to expand into a newly renovated location in Norwalk. Founded in 1998, the organization has already raised nearly $2 million toward its goal.
Malta House will celebrate the campaign’s kick-off with two open houses at its new location at 139 West RocksRoad in Norwalk. The events are scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 18 from 6:30 p.m. – 8 p.m. and Sunday, Sept. 22 from 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. and will feature guided tours of the pre-renovation building and light refreshments. All are welcome.
“Malta House is a haven for women in one of the most tenuous moments of their lives. After 20 years of assisting these moms to achieve stability and independence, we are so excited to grow into the next chapter of our story and help even more mothers and babies in need,” said Carey Dougherty, Malta House executive director. “One of our first Malta House babies recently graduated with honors from a magnet high school and began college at UCONN – the first in her family to graduate from high school, let alone attend college. Both achievements were unlikely without her mother’s history with Malta House. What better investment can a donor make than one that changes a family’s future for the good?”
Since 1998, Malta House has made its home at 5 Prowitt Street in East Norwalk. Over time, the organization has outgrown this space, while the need for its services has increased. The organization led a four-year strategic process, including a study with the Harvard University Community Partners program, to plan for and identify its next home. The new location at 139 West Rocks Road is a former convent located behind All Saints Catholic School. The 17,000 square-foot building will enable Malta House to serve 50% more women and babies, expand its service offerings, and provide new opportunities through community partnerships to improve access to healthcare, independent housing, education and workforce assistance.
The $4 million in capital campaign funds will pay for a $3 million renovation of the two-story building and provide a capital reserve for maintenance. Renovations and updates include installing an energy-efficient mechanical system (including solar power); installing an elevator for strollers and those with mobility needs; upgrading the home to be ADA compliant; and refreshing and furnishing the home. The two-story building includes enough space for meeting and classrooms, offices, a chapel, dining and kitchen areas, as well as a second-floor private residential area with a reading room and nursery.
County statistics reinforce the need for expanding Malta House’s services.
In 2016, there were more than 300 live births in Fairfield County to unmarried women over the age of 18 living below the poverty line, yet only 20% of women who request housing services receive them. The remaining 80% live in substandard or abusive conditions or are homeless. Women in this situation often face housing instability, difficulty meeting basic human needs for themselves and their babies, and lack of a support system new mothers need to succeed. Several options exist for Connecticut mothers under the age of 18, but Malta House is the only shelter in the state that offers long-term housing and wrap-around services to assist mothers in establishing financial independence and housing stability.