STEHM had its beginnings in 1986, among social ministry groups at local churches, trying to help people in emergency situations who were seeking assistance and shelter. Volunteers began by obtaining funds to provide emergency shelter in motels to individuals in desperate need. Based on this early work, the name STEHM was chosen, an acronym for “Short-Term Emergency Housing Ministry.”

STEHM continued this work and, recognizing a further need, began in 1988 to provide transitional shelter with counseling, at a four-bedroom rental house in Wilmington called Martha House. The objective of this program was, and remains, to improve and further the abilities of homeless persons to attain self-sufficiency and move to independent housing. Recognizing the continuing need for transitional shelter, STEHM purchased Martha House II in 1998, doubling the number of persons sheltered. In 2001, STEHM purchased a second house, relinquishing the rental property, and identifying this house as Martha House I. Accordingly, the meaning of STEHM’s acronym was updated to “Supportive Transitional and Emergency Housing Ministry” in order to better reflect its complete array of services.

Since its start, STEHM, has provided emergency and transitional shelter to more than 7,000 persons. A majority of the residents leaving Martha House I and II have moved to independent housing.

STEHM is well known in the community, receiving requests for assistance to the homeless from many local organizations. STEHM has been able to continue its mission by generous contributions from many sources, including individuals, government, business, private foundations, churches and other charitable groups.


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