From Blanket to Blessing: Women Find New Beginnings in Upgraded Shelter Pods

Clark grabs the pink butterfly blanket her daughter gave her and carries it across Samaritan House 48th. Excitedly, she makes her way to the Rose neighborhood, a new section of semi-private cubes called “pods” within the Catholic Charities shelter and settles into her new home. “This changes everything for me. I am a quiet and independent person, so to have this private place where I can mind my own business and focus on myself is amazing. I feel very blessed and know God is looking after me.”

After Clark’s divorce, her sense of self changed, and it took a toll on her financial situation. Samaritan House 48th is her chance to start over as a single person in a safe and healthy environment.

For Clark and the 96 other women who moved into the first round of pods, a new chapter begins.

The newly designed sleeping quarters consist of semi-private cubes equipped with a bed, a lockable wardrobe, electrical outlets and aisle lighting. With three sides enclosed, residents enjoy enhanced privacy within these spaces. These sleeping areas are also modular, allowing flexibility for rearrangement or reconfiguration as needed by the Samaritan House staff.

In addition to the sleeping quarters, the modular units create lounging spaces furnished with comfortable couches for residents to relax further. Samaritan House 48th also introduced upgraded restroom and shower facilities, along with a medical services center. It is expected that by the end of 2024, all of the pods will be complete, and every guest will have a pod and a “neighborhood” to call their own.

“These are more than just structures. They represent symbols of hope, dignity and progress. For too long, emergency shelters have been living in challenging spaces, ranging from mats on the floor, to bunk beds with very little amenities or supportive services. Our vision is a future where every individual in our shelter has access to safety, security, and a dignified emergency shelter experience.” said Eli Allen, the director of strategic initiatives for Catholic Charities

As part of the move-ins, each pod recipient received a welcome bag complete with skincare, body wash and other toiletries to celebrate their new space. Many of the women started decorating their spaces to make it their own, with artwork and little subtleties that are near and dear to them.

“We want to try to make it someplace where people feel like they can come, but they also know that there is a goal to live in a community environment. We do think that this will drive some more interest in coming inside because it does have a more dignified feeling,” said Allen.