Providence House began in 1979 when four Sisters of St. Joseph offered a place to stay to a mother who was coming out of prison and reuniting with her young child.
This grew out of a response to a need that Sister Elaine Roulet saw firsthand while ministering to ex-offenders at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility as Director of the Children’s Center. Shortly prior to their release, women were approved for weekend furloughs so they could begin the reunification process with their families. The problem was that there was no place for them to stay on these weekend visits, since many times their children had been split up among relatives or were living in foster care.
Sister Elaine asked the Sisters at St. James Convent in Brooklyn if they would provide hospitality for these women, and the Sisters readily agreed. Within a short time, the number of women who needed shelter outgrew the space available at the convent. A group of three Sisters, along with Sister Elaine, began to look for a house where they could accommodate more women. After much searching they settled on the former Xaverian Brothers house at Holy Cross Parish in East Flatbush, Brooklyn. In August 1979, the vision for Providence House was realized when the four Sisters moved in to prepare for families who needed a temporary place to stay.
Providence House has since grown from the house on Church Avenue to include five transitional residences located in Brooklyn and Queens; a transitional residence and permanent housing program in Westchester; and an apartment program and two permanent housing facilities in Brooklyn.