HART United began as a grassroots organization seeking to fulfill a dream for an abused and often forgotten group of people. A large group of founders worked diligently to develop Lawrence Hall, a licensed group home for six adult men that opened in February 1983. As a result of dehumanizing conditions that existed in the institutions, the group home model was the first step toward community integration in a residential setting.
In August 1982, the founders developed a proposal to the Community Foundation (formerly The New Haven Foundation) seeking funds to open the agency's first group home. The agency was granted seed money to initiate this project. Together with the help of the Community Foundation, the Unitarian Society, and the Hamden Probus Club, the opening of the group home was a rewarding and exhilarating experience. Volunteers from all sectors of the greater New Haven community contributed to this milestone in our history. A volunteer force performed physical labor such as moving, cleaning attics, assisting with plumbing and electrical projects, in addition to volunteer attorneys, CPAs, and engineers.
This first major achievement paved the way for future growth and accomplishments. HART United's struggles weren't over. In 1987, our efforts to integrate six women into the East Gate Condominiums were thwarted by neighborhood opposition. Our second milestone was achieved in a 12-page court decision. The six women were granted the right to reside at East Gate Condominiums where today they share many meaningful friendships with their neighbors.