Where most others look away, Michael Hall has made it his life’s work to focus his attention. For the past seven years as the Program Director for Liberty Safe Haven – a facility providing apartments to the chronically homeless – Hall has worked hand in hand with those suffering from mental health and substance abuse issues in New Haven, Connecticut.
As part of Liberty Community Services, Safe Haven follows the Housing First approach, which advocates providing homeless people with a place to live quickly and then providing services as needed. Once housed, the medically compromised individuals, many suffering from HIV and AIDS, are helped with making a permanent transition away from life on the streets to a situation that affords them ongoing medical assistance. Stabilized physically and emotionally, residents then learn the skills needed to live independently within the community.
Hall also oversees Safe Haven’s Day Program, a homeless drop-in center that offers not only counseling and medical care but also shower and bath facilities, a laundry room, a library, and employment guidance. In addition, he coordinates an ongoing health education series of talks directly targeted to New Haven’s most vulnerable demographic.
Before Safe Haven, Hall worked as a Program Director for the Yale University AIDS Program’s Community Health Care Van, which offers free medicine to the homeless by traveling into the heart of disenfranchised neighborhoods and hangout spots for both the sick and the undocumented.
Hall, who grew up on a farm in Simsbury, Connecticut, feels a deep connection to his Irish heritage, which took root in County Tipperary. “The Irish have always been a tender, empathetic tribe,” he says. “I think of those who survived the famine, the disenfranchisement. It inspires the work I do now.”
Married to his partner of twenty-two years, Otto Bohlmann, Hall is delighted that Ireland was the first nation in the world to legalize same-sex marriage by popular vote.