Our History

1983

Community partners begin providing hot meals for the community and open a small emergency shelter in a South Norwalk storefront
1983

1984

Becomes recognized nonprofit organization as Norwalk Emergency Shelter, moves to 4 Merritt Street where emergency shelter and food are still provided to people in need today
1984

1996

Purchases a multi-family house on South Main Street and starts providing supportive transitional apartments for people in need, which will grow to 9 properties and 55 supportive and affordable units today.
1996

2008

Changes working name to Open Door Shelter to reduce the stigma associated with needing shelter (formalizes the change in 2012).
2008

2011

Volunteers begin After School Buddies program to provide enrichment for children who are living in emergency shelter and those who have moved from shelter to homes in the neighborhood
2011

2017

Opens the Smilow Life Center, a multi-use building to provide employment services and continuing education, affordable apartments, accessible healthcare, a community closet, and a gathering space for local organizations under one roof
2017

2018

Changes working name to Open Doors to reflect the holistic, wraparound services provided to our neighbors dealing with housing insecurity and homelessness
2018

2019

Opens the Children’s Resource Center to provide a welcoming space for children in shelter and those who have moved from shelter to homes in the neighborhood
2019

2021

Launches the Financial Opportunity Center to help Norwalk area residents achieve economic stability through three core components:  employment coaching, financial coaching, and income support navigation

2021