Hagar’s House: A Personal Approach to Sustainable HousingA single mother of a preschool age child is not granted childcare by the childcare lottery selection system. She has to work to provide for herself and her child, but who will take care of her child while she is at work?Former residents Alyshia, Nia, Timothy, and Polly found the sanctuary they needed at Hager’s House.Paying for childcare is expensive, and single mothers must find a balance between working and providing care for their children. Quitting work leads to financial insecurity and housing insecurity, but going to work means paying someone to watch their children.Hagar’s House recognizes that women face additional challenges amidst New Orleans housing options. This nonprofit provides sanctuary to women and children and aids them on the journey to sustainable housing.The IdeaIn 2007, a team of five resident workers at First Grace United Methodist Church formed the First Grace Community Alliance. Angela Davis, Jennie Hammatt, Eric Germillion, Sarah Fleming, and Pastor Shawn Anglim worked to provide temporary emergency housing to ten people at the church. Soon after their project began, it became clear the need for housing in their community was not temporary. The church purchased a house, which became Hagar’s House, a sanctuary for women and children.Get our newsletter!Hagar’s House is one of two initiatives of the First Grace Community Alliance to help ameliorate the living conditions of women and children in New Orleans. Since opening, this house has provided sanctuary to over 350 women and children of all backgrounds.Personal ApproachHagar’s House is a modest facility, which gives the staff and residents the ability to interact with each other very directly. Programs and events vary by week to fit the needs of the current residents.“I like the community with whom I work, and the freedom to work here — the freedom to do good,” Davis says of her involvement with First Grace Community Alliance.The small house size increases each resident’s agency in the home and encourages collaboration to customize each resident’s journey to sustainable housing. Since opening, the house community organically created its current guidelines for residents.A Sustainable SanctuaryHagar’s House transcends the typical idea of a women’s shelter or homelessness shelter. The founders, staff, community, and residents truly feel it is a sanctuary because the house provides more than just safety to its residents. “We build relationships with people in a way we couldn’t in a massive facility,” says Hagar’s House Director Amber Tucker.Hagar’s House mirrors some of the patterns of intentional community used at First Grace United Methodist Church. This community-centric approach sustains itself even after residents leave Hagar’s House. Relationships built in the home provide emotional, spiritual, and physical support after residents leave the residential community.Their main fundraising event of the year is Friday, September 27. Hagar’s House hosts “Women Performing for Women” at Cafe Istanbul. Tickets for the event start at $40 with higher prices and donations accepted. For more information, visit hagarshousenola.org. Need shelter? Call 504-210-5064 [email protected] Mailing Address: 3401 Canal Street, New Orleans, LA 70119Thyme Hawkins is an editorial intern with Nola Family and our sister publication, Nola Boomers. She is a student at Loyola University, class of 2021.