Current Issue
This Month's Print Issue

Follow Fast Company

We’ll come to you.

Samaritan Inns: Finalist's Statement

Social Capitalists

Samaritan Inns

Samaritan Inns: A Vision Of Hope And Healing That Works


Continuously animated by a bold vision -- that every homeless addict who wants help will have effective opportunities to get the help he or she needs -- Samaritan Inns holds a clear mission with two dimensions:

  • To provide structured housing and rehabilitative services in an environment of support and accountability that will give homeless and addicted women and men the opportunity to rebuild their lives;
  • To share our experience, strength and hope in ways that will encourage other potential providers to respond effectively in their own local communities

History and Results

Beginning in 1985 in Washington, DC, with nine homeless men in a transitional house called an "Inn", Samaritan Inns soon focused on recovery from addictions as a strategy for helping homeless persons transform their lives. Always responding to the needs of our clients, we opened additional transitional houses and began serving women in the late 1980s, developed our first affordable housing community in 1991 and an alternative addictions treatment Intensive Recovery Program in 1997. Between 1997 and 1999, we doubled our service capacity so that now we offer 550 opportunities for hope and healing annually. By 2000, Samaritan Inns had leveraged more than $11 million in private investment for affordable, drug-free housing!

Together these developments resulted in an innovative, three-phase, employment-oriented Recovery Continuum of accountability and support for homeless addicts. Phases of the program include:

  • Phase 1 A 28-day Intensive Recovery Program where residents address the root causes of their homelessness, learn recovery skills, and receive group and individual addictions counseling.
  • Phase 2 Our six-month Transitional Living Program where residents practice living out a recovery lifestyle, seek jobs and work in the community while sharing housing in one of five transitional homes.
  • Phase 3 The Affordable Housing Communities where residents live in communal apartments as they reinforce their recovery lifestyles with increasing responsibility and independence.

The most valuable return of our work is demonstrated in the lives of men and women who seize the opportunities we offer to reclaim their lives. However, McKinsey & Company, an international management consulting firm, identified significant financial returns:

  • The Intensive Recovery Program provides a 75% savings when compared with government-funded medically oriented substance abuse treatment
  • $1 invested in the creation of Samaritan Inns' transitional housing yields a 219% annual return to society
  • The employment earnings alone, of residents in Samaritan Inns' longer-term affordable housing, are more than three times the annualized costs of providing this housing


Sound management practices and positive outcomes for the persons Samaritan Inns serves are the truest measures of our effectiveness. Yet, many people and organizations have recognized our achievements. These include the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, the Washington Post's Award for Nonprofit Excellence, the Greater Washington Board of Trade, Ashoka (an international proponent of social innovation and entrepreneurs), the Terry McGovern Foundation, and the Enterprise Foundation.


The program developed at Samaritan Inns has proven to be practical, effective and empowering for those struggling with homelessness and addictions. Therefore, in 2001, Samaritan Inns initiated Shared Hope to establish a Mentoring Partnership Network with groups around the nation that have the requisite understanding of their community's need, a vision for addressing the need and the commitment to see their vision implemented.

To date, Samaritan Inns has collaborated in three successful pilot partnerships under the Shared Hope process that have provided the opportunity for service providers in Baltimore, Milwaukee, and Washington, DC, to benefit from programmatic and organizational experience Samaritan Inns has gained. These pilot experiences have involved staff members at all levels of both organizations in direct practitioner-to-practitioner exchanges about what works. Tailored to the specific needs of each group, mentoring exchanges have included topics such as board structure and governance, addictions counseling, conflict resolution and confrontation techniques, organizational evaluation approaches, individual and foundation fund-raising, building maintenance standards and techniques.

In addressing the nation-wide need for effective responses to homelessness and addictions, Shared Hope offers many innovative dimensions, including:

  • the existence of a developed and effective 'demonstration project' in Washington, DC
  • a practitioner-to-practitioner orientation
  • an explicit focus on nurturing indigenous vision and leadership in our partners
  • a plan for optimizing our own organizational capacity while nurturing continual learning and innovation
  • capacity for replication of effective responses to grow as the Shared Hope Network develops

Learn more

The above information was provided by the profiled organization.