Shelters in Lancaster: The Role of Water Street’s Residential Program

When it comes to shelters in Lancaster, there are several local non-profits offering a variety of shelters; from family shelters, low-barrier shelters, shelters for women only, men only, and more. Regardless of what kind of shelter you are looking for and if you’re staying at one for the first time or not, experiencing homelessness can be very traumatic. 

Here at Water Street, we provide a safe and healing environment where guests can feel free to open up. In that process, we offer programs and coaching for men and women who are ready to commit to longer term transformation. This is where our Residential Program comes in. 

Water Street’s Residential Program is designed for our guests who, once they have completed their time at our emergency shelter, decide they want to dig deeper into their journey of healing and restoration. 

At the heart of our program is a personalized approach that recognizes the unique journey of each individual. Our staff members work alongside our guests, helping them to navigate self-assessment, identify areas for growth, and tailor our services to best meet their needs in their season of experiencing homelessness. 

Programs for Guests  

There are a number of shelters in Lancaster as well as other services our neighbors experiencing homelessness can access, but one of the things that makes Water Street unique is our variety of programming available, including: 

  • Guest education: Guests can take different classes, workshops and participate in activities, including our social hall which is called Santiago Social Hall, named after a former guest longing for a space where he could simply have fun in a healthy community. 
  • Career and financial services: We work with our residential guests on job readiness skills, help with budgeting, and walk with our guests as they navigate the job market. 
  • Spiritual care: Our spiritual care team offer to help our guests find spiritual direction, we have on-site pastoral care, and we take time to walk alongside our guests as they go through their healing process. 
Seeing the Whole Person
We really believe that addressing the immediate needs of food and shelter, while critical, is only the first step. We are complex beings, made up of many interconnected parts that all play a role in our whole person. Recognizing this, we aim to support every aspect of our guests’ lives, from mental health to employment and spiritual health. Our comprehensive counseling covers all areas, with a special focus on spiritual health as the foundation for meeting our core needs.

Water Street’s residential program extends beyond the temporary relief of homelessness. Our goal is to journey with each person toward a future where they feel restored and equipped to face life once they leave Water Street Mission. It is not just about creating a safe space but about building a community where our guests feel valued, understood, and supported in their journeys of healing and restoration.

Shelters in Lancaster 

Are you or someone you know currently experiencing homelessness? There are shelters in Lancaster County offering to help you in your journey, and if you’re in need of help, we encourage you to call our Access Center at (717) 393-2030

Other shelters in Lancaster include Lancaster Food Hub’s shelter, “The Welcome Place“, Good Samaritan Services, Tenfold’s Transitional Living Center, and more. You can also call 2-1-1 who will help get you connected to local resources.

Picture of Jenn Esbenshade

Jenn Esbenshade

Jenn Esbenshade is Vice President, Community Resources at Water Street Mission. Her professional strengths are to envision, implement, and evaluate programs. Previously she has done this work with international community development, language immersion, educational curriculum, and school accreditation. Her current work involves programmatic work for residential services for the unsheltered and underserved in Lancaster. Underlying all that she does is a passion for serving others through kindness and generosity that dignifies and uplifts.