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London’s littlest shelter marks big milestone in community contribution

August 11 marked the 10th anniversary of Unity Project opening its doors in the Old East Village.

Though once wrought with controversy, Unity Project has established itself as a respected model for emergency shelter and transitional housing services. “In the eyes of many we were just a bunch of unruly, idealistic kids. Lucky for London, they were half right!” says Chuck Lazenby, Unity Project’s executive director. “Being young helped us to take risks, but we were also smart, hard working and committed to our values.”

Over the past decade, Unity Project has sheltered approximately 5,000 men and women, has provided drop-in services over 180,000 times, and has assisted more than 1,750 individuals obtain housing. Frontline staff have made a minimum 100,000 referrals and volunteers have contributed 125,000 hours. Unity’s shelter environment operates with the values of respect, cooperation, interdependence, and compassion while focusing on the development of participants’ life skills.

“We hope that Unity Project has helped London to see homelessness as a crisis that people experience, caused by poverty and that it does not define a person,” says Lazenby. “We have helped thousands to approach stability and achieve independence, and I am confident that everyone achieves some success during their experience with us.”