Residential Programs

Building the tools to overcome homelessness and create a hope-filled future.

Overcoming Homelessness

A Caring, Personalized Approach

Experiencing homelessness is traumatic, which is why we go out of our way to meet each person with dignity and love. We provide a safe and healing environment where guests can feel free to open up. In that process, we offer personalized programs and coaching for men and women who are ready to commit to transformation. 

We create a space to share the life-changing news of the gospel and work with individuals to assist them in reaching their goals. While we help each person move past their season of homelessness, we also address deeper needs that will set them on a path of restoration, a path that will carry them throughout their lives.  

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Key Elements

Guests who choose to enter our Residential Program are first connected to a Case Manager and Social Worker in our Residential ministry. They help each person take a self-assessment, discover areas of growth and learn how our services can best help. But one of the most important jobs of our staff is to create an atmosphere of support and love. 

We want each guest to know they are in a safe environment, and one where they can open up, experience grace, and begin to prepare for a fuller life ahead of them. 

Guests in our Residential Program have access to:

“If I hadn’t come to Water Street, I probably wouldn’t have opened my heart back up to God. I’d be working at dead-end jobs…still struggling being a single parent.”
Jennifer, Water Street Guest

Children's Ministry

Our Children’s Ministry provides a safe, fun space for children in families in our Residential Program. Kids will find help with homework, lessons focused on understanding the character of God, plus crafts and playtime.

 It’s a place for a kid to be a kid during what might be a challenging season of life.

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Tanya's* Story

When Tanya* came to the Children’s Ministry at Water Street, Miss Ginger prayed about how to handle her. She would kick and hit her mom, refusing to obey. She wouldn’t receive compliments the staff would try to give her but hang her head low. “I was feeling discouraged one day and asked for prayer from a coworker” Miss Ginger shared.

She knew the days were busy and chaotic and wanted to make sure that the spiritual time was also occurring. That same day, Tanya came up to Miss Ginger and said, “Miss Ginger, will you read me a story about Jesus?” and pointed to the children’s Bible. “This little girl has grown in leaps and bounds!” Miss Ginger proclaimed. Obviously, the spiritually important items were still happening and sinking in.

Tanya’s mom was experiencing back pain, and Tanya suggested they pray and ask Jesus to heal it. She told her mom she wasn’t sure how to pray, and her mom helped lead her in a prayer for healing, even though they didn’t have any Christian background. Tanya’s mom now reads to her from the children’s Bible every night. “Tanya has the most hunger for learning about God that I’ve seen,” Miss Ginger said. “She has changed so much and is now one of my favorite students.”

*Name has been changed to protect privacy.

Stories Of Restoration In Our Residential Programs

Experiencing Renewal


The Renewal of Rick

God was waiting, ready to pounce on him. That’s how crushing self-condemnation made Rick feel. 

While battling an addiction to alcohol, Rick came to Water Street just hoping to make it through the tough winter months. But when he saw staff and volunteers joyfully serving him, his heart changed as he questioned where all their joy was coming from.

He discovered a God unlike what he had been raised to believe, one full of grace. Fueled with a passion to share that grace with others, Rick went into ministry, eventually serving as the President of a CityGate Mission in New Hampshire. Now Rick is Pastor of Crossroads Mennonite Church in Lancaster City and part of Water Street’s board. He still holds a passion for helping men and women who struggle with their self-worth understand the power of God’s love and grace. 


The Renewal of Jose

When Jose was in the third grade his mom and siblings all became homeless. They knocked on the door of the Mission for help, and received it. 

Jose looks back on that time of eating, sleeping, and being a kid at the Mission with the feeling that it kept his family together. “We were always in poverty, but we never felt defeated,” recalls Jose.

Today Jose is a husband, a father, Pastor and leader in Lancaster City as the Field Director at Teen Haven. It’s the exact same youth center where he found acceptance and support at as a kid and then as a young adult. Jose looks back on his journey through life and the path he took, and humbly says it all began at Water Street.


The Renewal of Samantha

For Samantha, the path to homelessness started with depression and addictions. It wasn’t until she was hospitalized, when she realized that she was lost and tired of the life she was leading. Her home life had enabled and contributed to her waywardness, so with nowhere to go, when she was discharged from the hospital, she came to Water Street Mission.

Samantha began developing strong relationships with her case worker, staff members, and other guests. These connections were instrumental in helping her get back on her feet. 

“The people here, like the workers, the staff and some of the residents, take a lot of personal time and they show a lot of compassion helping you get to the root of what’s wrong. Because it’s just not on the surface, it’s underneath,” she says.

Samantha has since grown in her relationship to Jesus and received a full scholarship to Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology where she is currently pursuing a degree in Business.


The Renewal of Gertina

Gertina had reached the point of exhaustion. Growing up in New York and raising a family in a dangerous area, situations had led her to relocate to Lancaster in hopes of a better life for her children.  

Instead, her depression worsened and her living conditions became increasingly unstable as she bounced from apartment to apartment. She reached out to Water Street for help and found the dignity and support she needed to overcome her obstacles. 

Through a difficult life journey – including the devastating loss of  a daughter – Gertina had lost her faith in God. But as her spiritual foundation strengthened, the staff supported Gertina in building life skills and a network of support. Now she is empowered to care for her kids, saying “Water Street is the best place to be. They will do a lot for you. They will listen to you … They do the best they can to be by your side.”  

Thank you to our sponsors!

Support our residential guests.

Each night, we house more than 170 people. Since our start we have served millions of meals. 

Be a part of the rescue and renewal happening every day. Donate today.