Look at our Progress!

On August 15th, demolition on the Finance and Commerce building started! We’ve watched with excitement as the building disappeared, the lot has been leveled and marking for the foundation of our Park7 building started. We can’t wait to watch the building go up and we want you on this journey with us. We take pictures of the project almost every day.
We’re excited to start this project to better serve our neighbors in need. To keep up-to-date on all things construction related, keep an eye on our website here: www.houseofcharity.org/expandinghope

We’ll Be Breaking Ground Soon!

Our long-awaited housing project is finally rolling!
Construction will begin to build 61 pet-friendly studio apartments for people experiencing long-term homelessness, along with other community spaces to expand and improve our services and the privacy of our clients.
As we get closer to breaking ground in the next few months, we’ve started planning an event to celebrate that.
We’re excited to start this project to better serve our neighbors in need. To keep up-to-date on all things construction related, connect with us on Facebook.

The Power of Empowerment: Tika’s Story

How many times have you been homeless? For most of us, that answer would be never. We have never experienced the fear of not knowing where we’ll sleep at night. We’ll never understand the shame of experiencing something that is surrounded by stigma.
Tika has experienced that three times. Three times she has found herself with no place to call home.
Tika could choose to be bitter because of what life continues to throw at her. Instead, she has chosen empowerment. By raising her voice, and the voices of those in similar situations, through the written word, Tika has created change. She started with a simple letter, which turned into a newsletter, which will, hopefully, someday turn into a newspaper. She wants this newspaper to be a resource for all individuals experiencing homelessness. Tika understands how hard it is to find the right resources when you don’t know where to look. She understands the fear of not knowing what kind of help will be available to her. She wants to take that fear away. By publishing a newspaper, Tika would provide something for men and women that would help them know that they are not alone, that what they are experiencing is not permanent or wrong.
The first time Tika found herself without a home, she had two young boys. She described that experience as far more frightening and embarrassing. First, because she had two children who were forced to experience homelessness with her. Second, because she didn’t know what her options were. Having never been homeless before, Tika did not know anything about the programs or resources available to her. She didn’t know where to go and she had no connections to other people in her new, if unwanted, community.
That’s why she cares so much about spreading knowledge. If she can help just a few people be less afraid of their situation, Tika will be happy. Her mission is just to provide the resource.
“Maybe they’ll just use it as a blanket. It doesn’t matter.”
What matters is that Tika is using her voice, her skills, her passion to create change. And because she has experienced, and is still experiencing, homelessness right along with them, people are willing to listen.
“We can speak for ourselves and we can let people know that ‘I’m not a number, I’m a person.’ We don’t want this to be our life, we don’t want to be stuck here, we don’t want to feel like we’re stuck here, we’re going to make it the best we can while we’re here.
Tika is in the midst of her third struggle with homelessness. As is it with so many individuals, homelessness doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t matter if you have a car. It doesn’t even always matter if you have a job. Sometimes, the cost of living is just too high. You lose your home.
Recently, Tika was denied SSI and disability support, something she had been counting on despite always believing a person should have a ‘plan B’. But she refuses to wallow in her disappointment. That is why she started the newsletter for other clients, and that’s why she will eventually start a newspaper.
The work we do, every moment spent providing food and housing and treatment for our neighbors, it all means so much less if we don’t also empower the men and women we work with. Tika saw a need, she realized that the people in her community, while being cared for, weren’t being empowered. By starting her newsletter and hopefully a streets newspaper, Tika is giving the power back to those from whom it has been taken. She is giving the voices back to the silent sufferers. Will you help us empower people like Tika, who is making far more change in the community that we could even dream up?

Exciting Progress on our Capital Campaign

House of Charity has raised $11 million, enough funds to begin construction of the housing building as soon as spring of 2019!
With the October 2017 approval of $8 million in funds from the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency restricted to housing, we have the funds to build 61 studio apartments for people experiencing long-term homelessness, the foundation of our ambitious expansion.
We are thrilled to receive the full housing funding for construction of the first building of our new facilities! Because the funds were restricted to housing, we are taking some time to redesign the second phase which includes the Food Centre, outpatient addiction and mental health program, and new offices for our case managers and our administration.

HOC supports legislative agenda for available housing

Our 2017 Legislative Agenda

Icons for several groups that lobby for legislative action to benefit hosing

The 2017 Legislative Session is well underway. House of Charity supports the legislative agenda for “Homes for All,” “Prosperity for All,” and “Restore the Vote.”

Homes for All

The “Homes for All” initiative is pushing for two major initiatives:

2017 “Homes for All” Legislative Request

  • “Homes for All” requests an additional $30 million in the state budget for the full spectrum of housing needs and to strengthen Minnesota’s Housing Continuum: investments will prevent and end homelessness, promote affordable housing, and prepare homeowners. These investments help communities throughout the state address housing needs and build financial assets.
  • Homes for All also requests $100 million in bonds for housing. These investments provide critical funding to build and preserve affordable housing throughout the state. This would allow the state to build or preserve 3,000 homes for Minnesotans experiencing homelessness.

The Governor’s budget and bills in the House and Senate include funds to help individuals and families end their homelessness with services and housing that fits their need.

Prosperity for All

The “Prosperity for All” initiative is an appeal for two actions

  • Increase the Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP) cash assistance by $100. MFIP provides work support and temporary cash assistance for families working toward full-time employment. The MFIP funds have not increased in 30 years. The cost of living has certainly increased, but the support for families working toward employment has not.
  • Improve the Working Family Credit. The credit needs to be offered to more families, be increased, and include younger workers.

Restore the Vote

Restore the Vote is an effort to reinstate voting rights for ex-offenders on probation or parole.

We need your help! Call or e-mail your Legislator to let them know you want them to support the “Homes for All,” “Prosperity for All,” and “Restore the Vote” Legislative Agendas.

It’s easy to call and leave a voicemail or message with a staffer: “Hi, my name is _____________________ and I live in ____________(city). I strongly support the $100 million investment in bonds for housing through the Homes for All initiative. I’m calling to ask _____________ to support “Homes for All” and I want them to also include the MFIP cash assistance increase again in the 2017 budget. It’s been 30 years since MFIP cash assistance for low-income families has been increased. It is time to increase support. Thank you.”
To find out who represents you go to: http://www.gis.leg.mn/OpenLayers/districts/

Jennifer, from the "2016 Ask the Expert videos

Featured in PollenMidwest.org

House of Charity is highlighted on the www.pollenmidwest.org website. Pollen “helps people break down barriers to build better connected communities.”  See story and more about Pollen at:  https://www.pollenmidwest.org/opportunities/house-of-charity/

Expanding Hope for the Homeless

Sep 6, 2016

Words by Meher Khanhouseofcharity_-74-alt-sm-jennifer

 

“How would your life change if you got sick? If medical couldn’t cover your bills? If you had to give all your money to medical? What would you do? Would you know where to go for help? Would you ask for help?”

Before her injury, Jennifer never could have imagined herself homeless. “I knew homelessness existed, but I guess I just didn’t give it any thought, and if I did, it was like, ‘Why are they homeless? They can work. They look like they can work.’ But it’s more than what you look like.” Just like in Jennifer’s situation, it could happen to anyone, at any time, and for any reason.

Jennifer was working three jobs when a back injury, exacerbated by the physical demands of her job in healthcare, led to a broken back and an inability to work. As her medical bills piled up, she found herself out of a home and living in her car.

“We’re paychecks away from the same situation,” says Evelyn Combs, Client Advocate Director.

It took Jennifer a long time before she could ask for help. After trying several shelters, she was more inclined to sleep on the street than face the conditions within those walls. Then one day, as she drove past House of Charity, something told her she should go inside. She had no idea what it was or what services they provided; she only knew that she needed to get inside before she froze to death. An hour later, she circled back and walked through the door.

House of Charity

For many people experiencing homelessness, pride often gets in the way of asking for help. In order to get out of the situation she was in, Jennifer had to ask for help, and for somebody who had been independently supporting herself, that was a difficult task. But House of Charity takes a unique approach with each of its clients who walk through the door.

“They made me feel like I was worthy of being here. ‘Yes we know you’re homeless…That doesn’t make you ugly, that doesn’t make you somebody else.’ Once they broke that barrier, that’s when I felt like ‘Ok, they’re really gonna help me.’ The next step was changing my attitude, and the following step was learning what I’m getting ready to do.” By addressing Jennifer’s internal struggles, House of Charity opened her up to not only surviving, but also progressing and thriving.

House of Charity is so much more than a charity or a shelter. Under one roof, there are services to address mental, physical, and emotional concerns, plus a highly qualified and invested staff who is willing to reach beyond his or her scope of work to find help and answers.

 

“I’ve never gotten an ‘I can’t help you.’ Even when I first came here and there was no room, they told me they’d get me in when they could.”

Equally important to the services House of Charity provides is the network it’s helped to create. “Community building and networking is important because we can’t do everything here, but it’s important to know where to send people to get help,” says Evelyn. “After the economy failed, a lot of resources went away. It was important for staff to know where to send people, or that an [organization’s] address was valid, because sometimes it takes somebody’s last $2 to get to that place.”

Once Jennifer was ready for the next step, House of Charity had even more resources to help her get there. Jennifer tapped into House of Charity’s other services including their Food Centre, other food shelves, doctors, and disability.

Food Centre

“My case manager was like a mini therapist; I used her ear and her professionalism to get some things off of my chest. I used their classes: financial budgeting, how to be a good neighbor, how to sign a lease, what an addendum to a lease was. I felt pretty damn smart.” The next hurdle for Jennifer, one which she never expected when she walked through the door of House of Charity, was finding an apartment.

Jennifer’s case manager was with her every step of the way during her housing search. Having the support of House of Charity was critical; as barriers to obtaining housing came up, House of Charity was there to tell Jennifer why something didn’t work out, and went one step further to help her address that barrier and prepare for the next search.

“The day I went to look at my apartment and I had my case manager with me, it was incredible. She vouched for me and I was accepted. Not only are they present, but they’re advocating on your behalf, and they know you.”

As of today, Jennifer has been in her apartment for three years and continues to use House of Charity’s services to progress and thrive.

“I’m getting there. I’m a work in progress. I love the independence, but I’ve still got a lot of work to do within myself, mentally, within my community, but I have that support.” When asked what kind of community House of Charity builds, Jennifer’s answer is simple:

 

“It looks like success. It looks like happy people, independent people. It’s a beautiful sight to see.”


House of Charity is so proud of Jennifer and what she has accomplished. She is a true testament to the spirit of hope and a better tomorrow. It is with that spirit of hope House of Charity is pleased to announce its Expanding Hope Campaign for a new building and expansion of services. Please visit HouseofCharity.org and consider making a donation to help transform the lives of others like Jennifer.

Posted by Pollen on Sep 6, 2016
Feed. House. Empower. Volunteer handing a hot meal to a client at House of Charity Food Centre.

Featured in The Journal

House of Charity is highlighted in The Journal article. The Journal is “The News Source for Downtown & Northeast Minneapolis Residents”.

A refuge for those in need

House of Charity has served the poor for more than six decades

Melvin Lewis worked for more than 20 years as a professional bill collector, a job that took an emotional toll on him.

He started hanging around the wrong people, he said, began using crack cocaine and marijuana and was homeless for five months.

“I knew God had something better for me, and I knew it was time to turn around my life,” said Lewis, a Chicago native.

A church in Florida paid for Lewis to bus back to Minnesota, where he enrolled in House of Charity’s outpatient chemical dependency program. He completed the program in April 2014, found an apartment through the nonprofit and started school to become certified as a community health worker.

$500,000 check for donation to House of Charity from Bremer Bank and FHLB

Announcing a Generous Donation to HOC’s expansion!

Thank you Federal Home Loan Bank and Bremer Bank for your generous donation to HOC!

Thank you Bremer Bank and Federal Home Loan Bank for awarding a $500,000 donation to HOC and the Community Housing Development Corporation that will go towards our new expansion project in Downtown Minneapolis.

Also, we send our many thanks to Keith Ellison, U.S. Representative for Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District, for your support and advocacy for affordable housing!

At House of Charity, we are honored to be a recipient from the Strong Communities Fund.

This vital support will help us build a new five-story building that is designed from the ground up to meet the needs of people experiencing long-term homelessness, featuring:

  • 65 units of smoke-free, sober, and pet-friendly permanent supportive housing for single adults experiencing long-term homelessness. Some apartments will be reserved for homeless youth and veterans.
  • A new Food Centre with a dramatically improved kitchen and a dining room with large windows to allow more natural light. The Food Centre will continue to feed 350 – 500 people per day.
  • An expanded addiction and mental illness treatment facility with space to double the number of people receiving quality, caring outpatient chemical and mental health services. The new facility will enable us to serve up to 100 people.
  •  New program space will add private meeting rooms that will increase the quality of our case management services.

A New Start

Phillip, a devoted father and husband, moved with his wife and children from Chicago to Minneapolis on November 12, 2013, to try and provide a better life for all of them. Unfortunately, the move did not provide the opportunity, on its own, to change the family’s circumstances. While initially Phillip and his wife had a goal of moving to Duluth, financial circumstances forced them to stay in Minneapolis. Though he was committed to seeking out a better life for his family, alcohol and drug use interfered with Phillip’s efforts and eventually led to a domestic assault charge.

 

Following that charge, Phillip was required to attend treatment beginning in January of 2014. He was initially skeptical about the Day by Day program, but eventually became committed to the program.  When asked about the change, he explained, “Counselors and case workers will help you the first few times, after that, you have to help yourself.” He realized the importance of changing his habits in order to better himself and his family. While he was attending the program, he also lived in House of Charity’s transitional housing facility.

 

By mid-2014, Phillip had completed the court ordered treatment through the Day by Day program. When reflecting on his treatment, Phillip gives credit to his case worker and counselor for their genuine care and support, commenting that the staff at House of Charity, “really put things together to help support you,” and that support had previously been absent from his life since his parents had passed away. Following his completion of the Day by Day program, Phillip and his family were able to move back together into a permanent housing solution.

 

Since completing the program, Phillip has completed two programs through Urban Ventures. The eight-week programs focused on areas of Responsible Parenting and Healthy Relationships and Marriage.  Phillip received certification for these programs on June 18th and July 3rd, respectively. Additionally, he has voluntarily continued ongoing support through the Continuing Care program at House of Charity, which he completed on August 6th.

 

Since moving to Minneapolis, he has also become very actively involved in the Inner City Church of Minneapolis. Phillip was recently baptized and in addition to attending service with his family every Sunday, he also has begun volunteering with the church. In such a short time, Phillip has accomplished many things which show his determination; not only that, but he has also shown a greater commitment to raising his growing family.

 

When asked about how this journey affected his family, Phillip said “I had to get better for myself, and my kids can look up to me now.” Phillip’s counselor shared that during the time he was attending his continuing care program at House of Charity, he would sit at his kitchen table, and while his children completed their homework, he would complete his assignments, as well. He is grateful for the ability to spend more time with his family; prior to his treatment, he was often absent from the home.

 

Phillip is seeking the opportunity to work towards completing his GED and eventually a Culinary Arts degree. The family is also a current candidate for a new home with Habitat for Humanity. Phillip remains grateful for the support of House of Charity and its staff. He is an advocate of programs at House of Charity because, in his words, “It works!”  He gives recognition to his case manager and counselor for their commitment to him and the other clients. He explains: “They didn’t need me, I needed them” in order to succeed in positive life change.

Moving Forward with Determination and Gratitude: Jennifer’s Story

I wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for House of Charity.  My family would have buried me two years ago—I would have frozen to death in my car.”

Jennifer had been living in her car for two years before finally asking for help from her primary care physician who referred her to House of Charity. About eight years ago, Jennifer suffered a horrible accident. She was out shopping for last-minute stocking stuffers for Christmas when a drunk driver sped through the Walgreens’ parking lot, striking her as she was walking to her car. She was crushed up against another car. After suffering severe trauma to her body, especially her back, Jennifer was released from the hospital after a few days and returned to work.

Jennifer worked as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) at two assisted-living facilities for the elderly, a field she loved and had been working in for 18 years. She continued to work her regular schedules at both jobs and ignored the constant pain she continued to experience since the accident.

A few years later, Jennifer slipped and fell on concrete, landing on her back. This new injury compounded with her previous injury that never healed forced Jennifer to have necessary back surgery. Jennifer was now disabled and could not work. With her limited disability income, she lost her home. She moved what furniture she could in to storage and began living in her car.

In the winter of 2012, Jennifer knew she needed help. Jennifer admits to being hesitant at first to ask for help and then even more so when it came time to actually set foot in House of Charity. She drove by and suddenly felt compelled to come in. She said that right off the bat, she was welcomed and treated with compassion and respect from House of Charity staff . There were not any openings for Jennifer right away, but a month later, the Intake Coordinator called her and notified her that there was a place for her if she still needed a place to stay. The next day, Jennifer moved in to House of Charity. She quickly moved from our transitional housing residence to her own apartment in our Housing First program. Jennifer began working with her Case Manager in our Transitional Housing Program and began taking Housing First classes right away. In the five-course series, she learned about rental leases and landlord/renter relations, budgeting, how to be a good neighbor, and the challenges of living alone. She was determined to get on her feet, get her own place, and start living life again. She appreciated her Case Manager’s open door policy and how she went to bat for her when it came time to find Jennifer an apartment. Jennifer was in our Transitional Housing Program for five months before moving on to our Housing First Program.

Jennifer has a great relationship with her Housing First Advocate. They meet weekly and since Jennifer can no longer drive, her Advocate also goes above and beyond by taking her to regular doctor’s appointments. Jennifer said that if she didn’t have the support of her Advocate along with her housing, she would not have been able to make it. Her Advocate also helps Jennifer deal with her mental health and self-esteem issues; she helps her find resources, with activities of daily living, and with goal-setting. Currently, Jennifer, with the support of her Housing First Advocate, is exploring where to go from here and how to change professions. Jennifer is devastated by the fact that she cannot physically perform the work that she enjoyed doing for so many years as a Certified Nursing Assistant. It has been difficult to figure out employment as Jennifer can neither sit nor stand for long periods of time and has to walk with a cane. Jennifer would like to continue to work in healthcare and is looking in to relative education and training options. She is currently coming up on her one year anniversary of being in her own apartment.

Jennifer remains grateful to House of Charity and optimistic for the future. The advice she gives to those in similar situations that she was in is to ask for help and remember that House of Charity doesn’t want you to fail.

“It can be so simple,” she says, “take the classes that they offer, meet with your Case Manager/Advocate, do the paperwork, and just follow the rules…you’ll be on your feet in no time.”

Don’t be Afraid to Ask for Second Chances: Bethany’s Story

Don’t be afraid to ask for second chances. You may be afraid, but you may be surprised at what you can accomplish.”

On September 6th, House of Charity participated in Operation Recovery 2012: Erasing Stigmas, an event held on the campus of Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC) and sponsored by their student-led Addiction Counseling Club.

We were delighted to take part, especially since the invitation came from one of our former residents!

Bethany had lived at House of Charity for several months in 2010.  She regards House of Charity and her time here as a nice stepping stone.  Having housing and food allowed Bethany to stabilize her life, “I looked for work. I didn’t have to look for a safe place to live. I was fed here.”

As an undergraduate at Bethel University studying on a vocal scholarship, Bethany was viciously attacked while running on campus.  Soon afterward, she left the school. “I lost my faith,” Bethany stated simply.

Bethany began using drugs.  She was in a long-term relationship with a man who also used.  Together, they had four children, including one set of twins.  Because she was found to be using in the home, Bethany’s children were taken away.  To allow her children to move out of the foster care system, Bethany voluntarily gave custody to the children’s paternal grandmother, but kept her parental rights.  Bethany expected the grandmother to maintain communication between her and her children, but Bethany has not seen nor heard from them in nearly four years.  All of the cards and letters she has written to them have been returned.  Bethany is pursuing legal assistance, but it takes time and resources.  In the meantime, her children are growing older – now 11, 10, and 9 (the twins).

While she was using, Bethany broke the law for money.  As a result, Bethany was imprisoned in 2009.  She had a year of sobriety in prison.  Soon after she was released, she came to House of Charity.  Now, two years later, Bethany is taking classes at MCTC to become a licensed alcohol and drug counselor, with an emphasis on art therapy.  An artist herself, Bethany sells her work and has exhibited at the Fine Line Music Café.  Bethany knows firsthand how art can lead to healing. “Some of my worst moments in life have come through to make great paintings; I am a rape survivor and my piece ‘Holy Trinity’ came from that experience.”

She hopes to help others escape the pain and consequences of addiction.  When asked what advice she would give to current House of Charity residents, Bethany quickly responded, “Don’t be afraid to ask for help.  Utilize your resources.  The more education you can get, the better, even if it’s one computer class.  Don’t be afraid to ask for second chances.  You may be afraid, but you may be surprised at what you can accomplish.”