An Open Letter to the Community
Hope House NYC is the safe housing space of The Ladies of Hope Ministries. We empower women by providing a safe housing space, a supportive community of women, mentorship and guidance for formerly incarcerated women to successfully re-enter life after prison.

Hope House NYC was created by Topeka K. Sam and Vanee Sykes, both formerly incarcerated women who met while in Danbury Federal Prison in 2013. Hope House NYC is for single women who have experienced incarceration and are returning to New York City. Housing is available to women for up to one year as they readjust to seeing their families, being in their communities, healing themselves and seeking employment and educational opportunities. At the conclusion of the year, our plan is for women to move into permanent housing while retaining their connection to Hope House NYC for support.

Hope House NYC includes live-in support in a homelike setting with light-filled bedrooms, a large gathering area, and a communal kitchen. We collaborate with community based organizations that will benefit the women of Hope House NYC.

Our goal is for each woman to create an independent, successful and happy life where they can thrive and become whole.

We, the women of The Ladies of Hope Ministries and Hope House NYC ask for your support. We are formerly incarcerated women who have successfully turned our lives around and have opened a safe house in the Castle Hill section of the Bronx for five women returning home from prison.

Hope House NYC is in complete compliance with all the necessary city and local regulations. We are not funded by the City or State of New York. We have gained support from individual donations and private foundations. We are modeled after the successful organization A New Way of Life developed by Susan Burton in Los Angeles, California.

We come out of the national prison reform movement and organizations led by formerly incarcerated people. Together we are creating new models for people returning home from incarceration. Hope House NYC is a safe space for women to heal from a life of violence and trauma. We believe formerly incarcerated women who have learned from their experiences are the best advocates for other formerly incarcerated women.

Many of the people who live in this community are either formerly incarcerated or have a "criminal record". It is important that the community stand with us as we come home, build better and more productive lives for ourselves, our children, families, and community. We believe that formerly incarcerated people have a right to live anywhere we choose. We deserve safe and beautiful housing like everyone else. We are citizens engaged in this community and we vote. We no longer will allow ourselves to be stigmatized and shamed.

The people signing this open letter urge Castle Hill neighbors and residents, elected representatives, community leaders and the larger Bronx community to welcome Hope House NYC and to support our necessary work.

We support Hope House NYC and its mission to create a safe space for women returning home after years of incarceration. We can create a community where we all thrive.

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For more information about Hope House:
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