1994: Founded by Belinda Pittman, who recognized a need in Milwaukee for transitional housing for homeless and at-risk mothers. Located at 63rd and Silver Spring.
1996: Moved to 50th and North.
1998: Purchased current building at 25th and Vliet from the City of Milwaukee. Building had been in foreclosure and needed significant work. Received an Affordable Housing Program grant, forgivable loan from the City of Milwaukee, a bank loan and generous donations.
2001: Rehabilitation complete. Basement community room, computer room, culinary/kitchen area, laundry room and children’s play space available to residents.
2005: Dress for Less Boutique opens at 27th and State. A small clothing store operated by part-time staff and program participants who have completed the Life Skills curriculum, it served as a valuable training opportunity and stepping stone to jobs outside of Nia Imani Family. It became a popular asset to the community for its affordable new and slightly used clothing, all of which was generously donated.
2007: Muhindi Program started to encourage reading and positive parenting among mothers and their children.
2009: Dress for Less resale shop and training program relocated to retail space in Nia Imani Family building at 25th and Vliet. Nia Imani Family, Inc. celebrates 15 years of helping women and their children break the cycles of substance abuse, violence and homelessness.
2013: 11 Residential apartments rehabed including storm windows and screens by the Department of Neighborhood service.
2014: Changed focus because of the demand to young mothers with child/children and first time mothers 18 to 25 years old with children not over 5 years old.
2016: Trained by St.A’s in Trauma Informed Care— realizing that we had been doing exactly this since our inception, there just was not a name for it then.
2017: Certified training in PIWI: Parents Interacting With Infants
The Nia Imani Family Name
Nia Imani Family’s name has its origins in two of the seven principles of Kwanzaa, and emphasizes our focus on creating an extended family-like structure in order to “re-mother” our women, and have them learn how to be supportive and sister-like to other residents, while experiencing a stable , functioning family that most of them never had— so that they can go out and establish their own self-sufficient family upon graduation.
Nia (NEE-yah) means purpose in Swahili. It encourages us to look within ourselves and to set personal values and goals that are beneficial to our children and the community, sas a ground for resilience in adversity.
Imani (ee-MAH-nee) means faith in Swahili.
It calls us to focus on our best self, and to strive for a higher quality of life for all, by affirming our self-worth and confidence in our ability to succeed and triumph in righteous struggle and a Good Life.
Nia Imani Family, Inc. 1353 N. 25th Street Milwaukee, WI 53205