Serial stowaway Marilyn Hartman finds help at A Safe Haven

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Less than two miles from Cook County Jail, you will find A Safe Haven at Roosevelt and California.

Some who might be destined for more encounters with law enforcement reside here temporarily, like Marilyn Hartman.

The 66-year-old woman made national headlines for repeatedly trespassing at airports and boarding planes.

While her criminal cases are ongoing, she is on electronic monitoring and getting counseling support she wasn't getting in jail.

"She has been a model resident here at A Safe Haven and I think it's what she needed," said A Safe Haven Co-Founder Neli Vazquez Rowland.

Neli Vasquez Howland co-founded A Safe Haven 24 years ago to offer those with mental health and behavioral health issues a chance to get stable before going back to the real world.

"For us it's not about judging, it's trying to understand what are the root causes and what are the other co-existing conditions that are happening in this individual's life," she said.

At any given time, A Safe Haven has 150 residents on house arrest awaiting trial but at the same time getting services to address their needs.

Alejandra Cano was arrested several times for theft and drug related charges and she was struggling with drugs and depression.

But four years ago, she was sent to A Safe Haven while she awaited trial.

"Something clicked, that maybe there was something better out there for me," said Cano.

Cano says she found recovery, counseling and job training, as well as stable housing when she left.

Hartman says this program is helping her, too. She has only been here for a month but she tells us she is already feeling better.

As for Cano, today she is living independently, working, clean and being there for her sons.

"My life has completely changed so it was like my eyes were open I had wreckage in my past I didn't know how I was going to fix it and solve problems but I knew there were hands of hope here," Cano said.

Staff at A Safe Haven say the longer Hartman is there the more time they have to help her help herself to live independently and free from encounters with law enforcement in the future.

A Safe Haven also offers services to those not referred by Cook County courts and those services are apparently in great demand. They say they have a waitlist and have to turn away 1,000 people each month in need of residential treatment.

For more information about A Safe Haven visit:
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