House of Pride still committed to Dover community

DOVER — Marion Lott, executive director of House Pride said the organization plans to continue to help change the culture of the community.

House of Pride, a housing and counseling program for men, has been a fixture in the Dover community since 1989.

The organization suffered some financial woes, which caused them to transfer four of its properties to the city last year.

The properties were located at 105, 106, 110 and 115 S. New St.

The two houses, one that serves as the main office for House of Pride at 105 S. New St., and the other an apartment building with four units at 115 S. New St., had an assessed value of about $237,000.

As part of the deal, vacant lots at 106 and 110 S. New St. were donated to the city. The vacant lots came with liens of more than $59,000.

House of Pride director Marion Lott of Dover stands in front of a home along New Street in Dover under renovation. (Delaware State News/Dave Chambers)

House of Pride director Marion Lott of Dover stands in front of a home along New Street in Dover under renovation. (Delaware State News/Dave Chambers)

The organization still has eight properties and plans to use the money from the city to renovate the homes and remain a staple in the community.

“This first thing we wanted to do was to reduce our debt,” Mr. Lott said.

“We were about $300,000 in debt and we wanted to get that as low as we could and we were able to get that to 49,000.”

He said that was a major step for the organization.

“We were able to utilize the money for renovations purposes,” Mr. Lott said. ”

Majority of the properties are on South New Street and are still being used to assist people.

“We’re able to assist nine people,” Mr. Lott said. “We’ve been moving them in and out as we continue to renovate the properties.”

“It’s like a college campus,” he added.

“That’s what we took in consideration, so everything is in the same setting, so we can coordinate appearances and everything that we want to do.”

The property at 45 S. New Street will serve as the central location for the organization.

Mr. Lott hopes to name the building after House of Pride’s founder Marian Harris, who stepped down as the director of the organization in 2013.

“I want to do something that will honor her for everything she’s done with the community,” Mr. Lott said.

“I hope there’s something that we can do so it can show the work that she has done on New Street will always be remembered.”

He said the building was one of her favorite properties.

“All the old woodwork is still on it,” Mr. Lott said.

“She likes preserves and this house fits what she likes and it’s symbolic to the type of work she was doing in the community, which was

House of Pride director Marion Lott of Dover stands inside the newly renovated home Tuesday.

House of Pride director Marion Lott of Dover stands inside the newly renovated home Tuesday.

preserving and bettering people.”

As far back as many can remember, Ms. Harris has been a force for the underdogs and the betterment of the community.

As a resident of Wilmington in the 1960s, Ms. Harris fought for fair housing practices in that city.

Ms. Harris started Positive Intervention for a Better Way, dressing the guys up in uniforms and working to make the men feel a part of something bigger.

In a 2012 interview Ms. Harris said she reached out to find the reasons why the men weren’t seeking help and advancement.

She said she found these men had difficulties finding jobs, were not exposed to the same opportunities, and had not been encouraged to get help with rehabilitation programs.

Her curiosity and drive sowed the seeds for the House of Pride.

Mayor Robin Christiansen said Ms. Harris is a pioneer.

“I was on city council when she started getting House of Pride together,” Mayor Christiansen said.

“She saw the need for people and wanted to better them any way that she could. She took people off of the street and gave them a reason to wake up in the morning.”

“She had a vision as to what needed to be done at the time and she executed it,” Mayor Christiansen added.

The House of Pride has been able to utilize the able-bodied men to take over some houses in the neighborhood, fix them up and rent them to provide a much-needed additional source of revenue for the agency.

Mr. Lott said the nonprofit organization plans to continue to carry out Ms. Harris’ legacy.

“In five years we hope to be completely out of debt,” Mr. Lott said.

“It’s important that we don’t have any debt moving forward and we’ve been working towards that.”

“We will continue to help as many people as we can in the community for as long as we can,” Mr. Lott added.

Mayor Christiansen said the House of Pride legacy will be forever embedded in the city.

“The organization continues to move along,” Mayor Christiansen said. “It may not be at the pace that they want to, but it’s coming around.

“They’re continuing to do great work that was started by Ms. Harris.”

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