Be sure to check out all our “2016 Ask the Expert Series” videos. We have continued the popular series started last year. We found a new voice, Jennifer’s, to tell this story about an exceptionally strong woman and her experience of homelessness, how she got in touch with House of Charity, and how she was helped in her journey to move forward.
Watch the introduction
to the “2016 Ask the Expert”
In addition to watching the videos of Jennifer answering our “Ask the Expert” questions, you can read more about her story in an article featuring House of Charity, as well as Jennifer and her story, on the website “Midwest Pollen,” which is further discussed here on our website. House of Charity is highlighted on the www.pollenmidwest.org article. “Pollen” is a website that “helps people break down barriers to build better connected communities.”
See the story about House of Charity and more about Pollen at: https://www.pollenmidwest.org/opportunities/house-of-charity/
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
“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.
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.
“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.
The Chemical and Mental Health Treatment program at House of Charity is an excellent gender-specific outpatient treatment option for men and women struggling with substance abuse or a dual diagnosis. Through evidence-based practices facilitated thorough system of phases and sliding scale payment options, treatment at House of Charity is comprehensive, affordable and definitely worth pursuing.
Read full review at https://rehabreviews.com/house-charity-review
House of Charity is highlighted in The Journal article. The Journal is “The News Source for Downtown & Northeast Minneapolis Residents”.
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.
More homeless people — particularly families — are knocking on the doors of emergency shelters in Minneapolis and elsewhere this fall than last.
A continuing shortage of affordable housing tied to mortgage foreclosures and the North Minneapolis tornado is squeezing low-income persons onto the streets and into shelters, advocates for the homeless say. The Minneapolis vacancy rate for low-income housing is around 1 percent and the Hennepin County rate only somewhat better.
Joblessness, a fallout of the Great Recession, remains a problem. And families and individuals who have spent down savings and other assets and have worn out couch-hopping welcomes with relatives and friends have no where left to turn but to shelters.
Full Article: “Area Homeless Shelters Swamped and Worry About What’s Ahead” article from MinnPost Community Sketchbook
“A Night to Unite” event VIDEO from The Star Tribune Editor’s Picks