At the Heart of Recovery


Casa's 30th Anniversary Gala

Hope, Humility & Community Healing

May 20, 2017

Grassy Hill Country Club

Orange, CT

Keyla Torres Ocasio- CT Post

published 5/30/17

BRIDGEPORT — When men with substance abuse issues arrive at the Chemical Abuse Services Agency, better known as CASA, Executive Director Asher Delerme estimates more than 70 percent are unemployed and many are not even in the labor market.

“They’re not even counted because they’ve been out for so long,” Delerme said. “Which raises the question, what have they been doing to survive?”

Of those who do work, many arrive at CASA’s Iranistan Avenue headquarters because their employer sent them there. As for the women, Delerme estimates nearly all are unemployed when they step foot in the organization’s offices.

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 18.2 percent of unemployed adults were illicit drug users in 2013, double the 9.1 percent for those employed full time and also higher than the 13.7 percent of part-time workers who were drug users.

Despite providing job readiness, interview and resume assistance to most of the more than 1,000 people it serves each year, Delerme said the rate of success in depends on a number of factors, including what type of program they’ve completed.

While the residential programs see success rates of 82 percent, number is nearly cut in half for the high-level ambulatory program.

Delerme attributed this, in part, to the fact that many of these unemployed individuals walking through CASA’s doors depend on Medicaid programs for health insurance. But only certain type of plans will cover residential service, which leaves some people with no choice but to participate in the ambulatory program despite their needs.

“Sometimes they are really in the wrong level of care,” Delerme said, noting that substance abuse issues are often coupled with mental health concerns. “They need to be taken off the streets. That’s what brings the numbers down.”

CASA, which celebrated its 30th anniversary this month, has recently seen a 45 percent increase in its admissions. Delerme said in the 19 years he has been with CASA, he has seen cycles and the organization is now in a period of high need.

He said the national opioid crisis is part of this, although in minority communities opioid addictions have been a serious problem for decades.

CASA has grown significantly since it was founded in the basement of a Kossuth Street church in order to provide culturally sensitive resources to Hispanics who oftentimes did not receive the appropriate services.

“We believe a lot of the emotional pain is coming from people’s identity, their marginalized status in the community, immigration issues or issues having to do with oppression,” Delerme said.

CASA is now comprised of several programs in New Haven and Bridgeport, including Project Courage, which serves women, and several dozen short- and long-term housing units, including the Noble House and Casa Hostos. The organization employs more than 80 people. Delerme said finding qualified staff who are certified, understand the effect of culture on addiction and are bilingual has often proven difficult.

“Our job is to take people that are broken apart and help put them back together piece by piece,” Delerme said. “The communities we work with are powerless and voiceless. We have to give voice to what’s going on with them.”

Delerme said that task will likely become more difficult after expected cuts in state aid to their programs. “The good thing is that we’re seeing (addiction) as a public health issue,” he said. “You can only mess with the funds so much.”

Executive Director Asher Delerme announces agency wide change process...

Introduction to Building CASA’s Culture of Excellence and Integrity

At CASA, Inc., we are committed to delivering the best behavioral health care services for the populations we serve. Together, we are working towards a vision to be recognized as a leader in Connecticut of excellent, compassionate, culturally competent and high quality behavioral health care.  At the same time we are working in an environment which demands higher levels of accuracy, accountability and competency.  With that said, CASA is embarking on a change mission to establish and carry out fundamental organizational principles and action goals to achieve this vision.  As employees of CASA, Inc., you are all an important part of this change process. Therefore as we craft the messages of change, we decided to tailor the specific action items to the 3 critical categories of our employee population: 1) Clinical Direct Care Staff, i.e. Doctors, Counselors, Medical Assistants and Nurses; 2) Non-Clinical Direct Care Staff, i.e. Case Managers, House Managers, Child Care Workers and Drivers; 3) Non-Direct Care Staff, i.e. Administrators, Maintenance Workers and Administrative Support Staff.  While these action items may be directed to specific categories within our employee community, they will all convey CASA’s deep commitment to:  

  • Improve the oversight, accuracy and quality of clinical services

  • Bring out the very best performance each employee has to offer

  • Improve our ability to follow CASA’s program standards as well as  governmental regulatory standards

  • Foster a workforce culture that values quality, excellence and integrity for patient care

  • Support and facilitate employee cohesion, performance and effectiveness

As each category receives their principles and action items, I am asking you to please read each communique carefully and feel comfortable to ask any questions about CASA’s process of building the organization’s culture of excellence and integrity.  Again we value and appreciate your attention to this process and look forward to an affirming organizational transformation. 

Introducción a la creación de la cultura de excelencia e integridad de CASA

En CASA, Inc. estamos comprometidos a ofrecer el mejor servicio en salud del comportamiento a la populación que servimos. Estamos trabajando juntos hacia la visión de ser reconocidos como líderes en Connecticut como excelentes, compasivos, competentemente culturales y con alta calidad de servicio en salud del comportamiento. Al mismo tiempo estamos trabajando en un ambiente al cual tiene una alta demanda en niveles de exigencia, responsabilidad y competencia. Con eso dicho, CASA esta embarcando en un cambio de misión para establecer y llevar estos principios fundamentales organizativos  y goles de acción para lograr esta visión. Como empleados de CASA, Inc. ustedes son una parte importante de este cambio en el proceso.  Por lo tanto mientras creamos el mensaje de dicho cambio, hemos decidido adaptar los elementos de acción especifica a tres categorías fundamentales de nuestra población de empleados: 1) Personal Clínico de atención directa, i.e. Doctores, consejeros, asistentes médicos y enfermeras; 2) Personal no-clínico de atención directa, i.e. administrador de casos, jefes de casa, niñeras, y choferes; 3) Personal de atención no directa, i.e. administradores, mantenimiento, y personal de apoyo administrativo. Mientras que estos puntos de acción pueden ser dirigidas a las categorías especificas dentro de nuestra comunidad de empleados, todos ellos transmitirán el profundo compromiso de CASA a:

  • Mejorar la supervisión, precisión y calidad de servicios clínicos

  • Sacar el mejor rendimiento que cada empleado tiene que ofrecer

  • Mejorar nuestra capacidad de seguir las normas del programa de CASA, así como las normas reguladoras gubernamentales

  • Fomentar una cultura de trabajo que valore la calidad, la excelencia y la integridad de la atención al paciente

  • Apoyar y facilitar la cohesión de los empleados, el rendimiento laboral y la eficacia

Como cada categoría va a recibir sus principios y elementos de acción, yo les pido que por favor lean cada comunicado con cuidado y se sientan cómodos para hacer cualquier pregunta sobre el proceso de crear una cultura de excelencia e integridad de CASA. Otra vez valoramos y apreciamos su atención a este proceso y esperamos la transformación de una organización solida.

CASA Celebrates 25 years!
CASA’s 25th anniversary brings into perspective both the scale of the challenges we've faced and how many lives we've transformed in the past twenty-five years. More than anything, we are reminded that none of the work—whether building supportive housing, improving access to behavioral healthcare, or developing integrative care—could have happened without our dedicated staff, collaborators and the generous supporters who are a part of this great organization.

Please take a look at what we've made possible and all that we've accomplished together.


  • Residential Behavioral Health Services - Casa Hostos, Bridgeport
  • Women’s Behavioral Health Services - Project Courage, Bridgeport
  • Transportation and Childcare - Project Courage, Bridgeport
  • Day Treatment Behavioral Health Programs – All Sites
  • Intensive Outpatient Behavioral Health Services – All Sites
  • Outpatient Behavioral Health – All Sites
  • Re-entry Program – Proyecto Nueva Vida (PNV), Bridgeport
  • Peer Mentoring – All Sites
  • Medication Assisted Treatment Services - MAAS, New Haven
  • Latino Outreach Services – All Sites
  • Psychiatric Services - All Sites
  • Primary Healthcare Services - MAAS, New Haven
  • Permanent Supportive Housing - Areyto and Harrison, Bridgeport
  • Transitional Supportive Housing - Recovery House, Bridgeport
  • HIV/AIDS Supportive Housing - Noble House, Bridgeport
  • Comprehensive Spanish Speaking Behavioral Health Services – All Sites
  • HIV/AIDS Testing and counseling – All Sites
  • Homeless and Outreach Services - HOTT, Bridgeport


Twenty five years ago several Bridgeport residents and stake holders, including Jose Ortiz, Rev. Wilfredo Ramos, and Edith Sanchez gathered in the basement of St. Luke’s church to create Casa Eugenio Maria de Hostos with a vision of providing culturally relevant treatment services that would address the needs, hopes and dreams of the community.  Today we stand proud, acknowledging how very far we’ve come from that seminal moment, having created an outstanding network of recovery programs, transforming the lives of over twenty thousand individuals and families in two major Connecticut cities.


In celebration of these extraordinary years and with inspiration and hope for the future, we planned an evening of reflection with great food and dancing with the world class Spanish Harlem Orchestra. 

Sincere and heartfelt thanks to all of our wonderful sponsors, friends, colleagues and collaborators who continue to support CASA.  We optimistically look forward to the next 25 years.  


– Asher Delerme, Executive Director, CASA, Inc. 

Community Partnership Breaks Ground on Areyto Apartment City of Bridgeport, CASA, Alpha Community Services & Fairfield 08 to build 20 units of permanent supportive housing
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. - March 15, 2007 -

Bridgeport Mayor John M. Fabrizi, CASA, Inc., Alpha Community Services, a branch of the Central Connecticut Coast YMCA, Fairfield 08, and other city officials and local organizations celebrated the groundbreaking of the Areyto Apartments, a 20-unit permanent supportive housing development for people who were formerly homeless. Construction is expected to take approximately 14 months.
This project contributes to our Ten Year Plan to End Homelessness by providing 20 units of permanent supportive housing combined with individualized health, support, and employment services a proven, cost effective solution that addresses the root causes of homelessness, explained Fabrizi. The Ten Year Plan to End Homelessness was launched in June 2005 in partnership with the Mayor's Office and the United Way of Eastern Fairfield County and in collaboration with more than 100 greaterBridgeport area leaders.

Financing for the project is being provided under the State sponsored Supportive Housing Pilots Initiative and will be part of a statewide program spearheaded by the national Corporation for Supportive Housing, the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, and the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority. The City of Bridgeport contributed the property at 665 Arctic Street to CASA and provided the development with a partial tax abatement.
The Areyto Apartments architect, Leonardo Rodriguez, is designing the building to be a significant new asset in the Upper Eastside neighborhood. The building will have three stories and is designed to be  both consistent with and an asset to the surrounding neighborhood. The development will blend a combination of masonry and wood exterior materials that will harmonize with nearby Victorian era buildings. The redevelopment of this vacant parcel into supportive housing will contribute to the revitalization of the surrounding neighborhood and together with streetscape improvements, will create a safer community for Bridgeport residents to live in.
The contractor for this project is Encon Construction, Inc. of Branford, a general contracting firm that has been in operation for 17 years. Their portfolio includes some 40+ construction and renovation projects that include State and municipal buildings, schools, recreational and cultural facilities, churches, and residential buildings. Each of the 20 one-bedroom apartments will have a fully-equipped kitchen, bathroom,and living area. The first floor will house on-site case management and common space, as well as providing for property management and security. The project will be known as Areyto Apartments, named for an ancient ritual practiced by the Native Americans of the Caribbean and South America, in which communities gave thanks and honored each other for the blessings of health, the gift of family, and the power of community.

Areyto Apartments is co-sponsored by the Chemical Abuse Services Agency (CASA) and Alpha Community Services, a branch of the Central Connecticut Coast YMCA. Through funding from DMHAS, CASA will offer supportive services to the tenants of the Areyto Apartments, explained Asher Delerme, executive director, CASA.. Case management services will take place on-site at Areyto Apartments.

Individuals also will be linked to other supports offered at various locations within the community. Case managers will work to connect tenants with the array of services that presently exist in the Greater Bridgeport area. The goals of the supportive services are to help all residents maintain recovery from mental illness and/or substance abuse; maximize self-determination; increase daily living skills; promote the appropriate use of community-based services; decrease the use of crisis and emergency services; and engage people in a meaningful, long-term recovery process that includes community responsibility.
We are extremely happy for this day as we add another 20 units of supportive housing to assist a population who counts on us for leadership, stated Carmen Colon, executive director, Alpha Community Services.  We urge everyone, especially political leaders to embrace the efforts of all the groups working diligently to eradicate homelessness. On behalf of the homeless population we thank Mayor Fabrizi, City Council President Andres Ayala, and City Councilwoman Maria Valle for making this day possible.
To learn more about rental guidelines for Areyto Apartments, please contact CASA at 203-339-4112.