Dr. Benjamin S. Carson toured A Safe Haven Foundation

Ben Carson visits A Safe Haven
(Front row L-R) Joseph Galvan, Midwest Regional Administrator at US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD); Dr. Benjamin S. Carson, Secretary of US HUD; Neli Vazquez Rowland, A Safe Haven Foundation, Co-Founder & President

Dr. Benjamin S. Carson, Secretary of US Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary, toured
A Safe Haven Foundation the Exclusive Illinois HUD EnVision Center Demonstration Site


Chicago, IL July 20, 2018- On Friday, July 20, 2018, Neli Vazquez Rowland and Brian Rowland, Co-founders of A Safe Haven, hosted the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary, Dr. Benjamin Solomon Carson. Secretary Carson was joined by Midwest Regional Administrator Joseph Galvan and other federal agency leaders were also among the invited guests for the informational meeting tour of A Safe Haven’s flagship location in Chicago’s North Lawndale community. A Safe Haven Foundation was recently selected by HUD, through a competitive application process, to serve as one of its 17 exclusive “EnVision Centers” across the United States. EnVision Centers will serve as a central hub for coordinating the services offered by 21 federal agencies to play a role as a resource to break down the silos.  EnVision Centers will provide HUD-assisted families, and other families in need of assistance, access to support services that can help them achieve self-sufficiency in the four pillars — (1) Economic Empowerment, (2) Educational Advancement, (3) Health and Wellness, and (4) Character and Leadership, thereby streamlining federal resources to allow for a more efficient distribution to help over 22,000 current residents, 40,000 households currently on the wait-list, and people from the community at-large  get access to comprehensive and integrated assistance through this “one-stop-shop” set-up.


Today, ASHF Residents and Alumni shared moving stories regarding histories of substance use disorders, homelessness and separation from family and friends, behavioral health challenges and serving time for nonviolent crimes, followed by inspiring stories of overcoming challenges and getting them back on track to employment, housing, and family reunification due to receiving an individualized, comprehensive and integrated behavioral health care continuum of care while simultaneously receiving social and economic development services, at ASHF, that helped transition them to sustainable independence and permanent housing.


The EnVision Center will help amplify and scale A Safe Haven’s current model, acting as a one-stop shop to help mainstream people from public housing and from the community, who currently rely heavily on public assistance and face barriers to mainstream opportunities, back into the workforce and into affordable housing. Individuals and families seeking support will have access to opportunities leading to sustained success in the four pillars, streamlining the process of supportive services on behalf of all federal, state, county, city agencies and private and corporate donors. EnVision Centers intend to close the gaps and link, leverage and align goals and resources to achieve the mutual and collective goals of all stakeholders to efficiently allocate time, money and talent towards empowering marginalized and dependent people back into the workforce and independent living in a sustainable manner, for the long-term, and to impact generations to come, combatting deeply rooted social determinants.


Our big focus at HUD is focusing on people, in terms of getting people where they need to be. A Safe Haven’s focus on bringing all of these organizations together like federal, state, local, nonprofits, private sector, and faith based resources under one roof, serves as a way to get people out of poverty. We have an obligation as a compassionate society to take care, with dignity, of those people who cannot take care of themselves. I’m thrilled with what is going on here; it is the epitome of what we talk about with the EnVision Centers’ four pillars, It is absolutely critical that the people sitting around this table and people throughout our nation all have a sphere of influence and realize we’re all in the same boat. If part of the boat goes down the rest of us are going down too. ‘A house divided against itself cannot stand’. It’s going to be up to us. We are the American people who reach out and help our neighbors.” – Secretary Benjamin Carson, Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development


This was an inaugural visit by a US Secretary of Housing and Urban Development to A Safe Haven Foundation in Chicago! I am incredibly honored that he came here and that I had the opportunity to pass the mic to the people on the frontlines who are experiencing the challenges and to those on the team committed day in and day out to helping others overcome them for Dr. Carson to hear their stories of hope. As an EnVision Center, we can only imagine the huge potential we will have to transform thousands of more lives by working together with over 20 Federal Agencies under one roof at our central hub, and hundreds of other local and regional organizations adding their resources.  The vision and mission of Dr. Carson with the Envision Center is our vision and mission at A Safe Haven; that is to break down the silos of public and private funding and to streamline the process of receiving greatly needed assistance that can consistently put people on a path to sustainable independence and to be extremely efficient in its use of funds and resources. With Dr. Carson at the helm and with everyone in the community and on the team sharing a common vision and mission and working together, there is no doubt that healing and success will be inevitable for all stakeholders.” – Neli Vazquez Rowland, ASHF President


I started using drugs after a car accident 10 years ago.  I got addicted to pain pills and then it moved to heroine. Even though I have two amazing sisters and parents, I have been in and out of treatment and jail ever since and spent a few months living in alleys and abandoned buildings.  I’ve been to other places, but it was never enough.  Here at A Safe Haven they work with you to get you everything you need. I’ve come a long way; I’m a 100% better now. I know I can make it if I stay here. I don’t ever want to go back. My parole is over in August but I will stay to work on recovery and treatment. My goal is to open a Kennel. I love dogs and that is what God wants me to do.” – Tiffany, ASHF Resident


I’d been into drugs and in and out of jail for thirty years. I lived in different people’s houses for short times then moved on. A Safe Haven helped me a lot. They opened their doors and helped me get my life back on track. The environment gives me better insight to help me better my life if that’s what I want to do. ASHF threw me a rope to climb out of a deep hole. I encourage other guys to stay off drugs and live life on life’s terms. I work here part-time and I hope I can get full time work here soon. A Safe Haven saved my life; I know that’s for sure.” – Michael, ASHF Resident


To learn more about EnVision Center and to find out all 17 demonstration locations chosen, visit www.HUD.gov/EnVisionCenters. To support A Safe Haven with all of its multifaceted programming and supports, and to stay abreast of EnVision Center news visit www.asafehaven.org.