History of Green Door and Brief Overview


Green Door was founded in 1976 as a community program that prepares people with severe and persistent mental illness to work and live independently. We have helped nearly 3,000 District of Columbia residents move from institutions and homeless shelters, to lead fulfilling, independent lives. Green Door is recognized nationally as one of the most successful programs for people with a mental illness.


When people come to Green Door, they become part of a supportive, nurturing community that forms the foundation for their re-entry into society. At Green Door, everyone is accepted and treated with respect – something many people with mental illnesses do not get outside Green Door. Everyone is needed and valued. This sense of community dramatically reduces alienation and isolation, making it possible for members to move toward independence and autonomy.

Green Door sees the whole person, not the illness. The people we help are members of a community, and we treat each with the dignity and respect they deserve. Members are involved in all aspects of Green Door. They serve on the management planning team, Board of Trustees, interviewing and hiring committee, and help to orient new staff and members. Green Door also has a Member and Family Planning and Evaluation Group to assess our programs and help develop new services.

Population Served:

Green Door provides services to hundreds of individuals each year. Of these, 75% are African American, 23% are Caucasian, and 2% represent other ethnic backgrounds. The male to female breakdown is 60% male and 40% female. Most of our members are poor – 90% fall well below the federal poverty level. Most importantly, 100% of our members have a major mental illness – 64% have schizophrenia. About half of our members have a secondary diagnosis of substance abuse. Green Door offers programs to help people stop using illegal drugs and abusing alcohol.

Research shows that people with a major mental illness remain in the community and out of the hospital longer when they are working. Green Door’s employment program is one of the strongest in the nation. Our re-hospitalization rate varies from 9% to 14%, compared to a national rate of 50%.

Services Provided:

Green Door provides many services, depending on what a member needs. We have a psychiatrist and nurse that help our members identify appropriate plans for treatment of their mental and physical illnesses. We provide medication education and monitoring, community support/case management services, and housing. Green Door offers counseling groups such as Family Support, Anger Management, and Substance Abuse Recovery. We have a day program, job training, and job placement programs based on the Clubhouse model. More information is available at the Programs and Services area of this web site.

More than 70% of homeless people have a chronic mental illness. To meet the needs of homeless people, Green Door staff visits shelters and invites people to come to Green Door and try the program. Once they join, we work with them to secure safe and permanent housing and additional services needed to help lead them to recovery.

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