As we shared earlier this month, the Humility Homes and Services Outreach Team is always reaching out to persons living in precarious housing situations and especially when they are living in “public and private spaces not designed for human beings.”
Here is a story that happened just last week. Thank you to the downtown business person who alerted us to a Veteran living in an alley:
“Sometime in late winter an employee at a local business reached out to me and told me about a woman experiencing homelessness who had been camped out behind a dumpster for some time in a parking lot adjacent to their facility. He and his wife, along with another colleague, had been washing and drying this woman’s blankets, and giving her food. Chris and I paid her a visit, and then several other members of the Outreach Team reached out to her over the months that followed. We learned that she was a vet, and eligible for services that she wasn’t aware of. She visited shelter once, but was resistant to stay. She continued to stay outdoors. Today Kerri is helping her move into her own apartment with the support of the Supportive Services for Veterans Families programs. With the household furnishings donated to our Fresh Start Donation Center, our new participant has been able to choose items to make her apartment her new home!”
Partnerships are key to ending homelessness and creating new opportunities! If you know of anyone living in dangerous situations, please call our Outreach Team on 563.322.8065.
The American Medical Association took a strong stand supporting Housing First Policies like those we have in place here at Humility Homes and Services. These policies end chronic homelessness and build more equitable communities by ending racial housing segregation. AMA delegates at the 2018 annual meeting in Chicago adopted the stand.
“It is important that we take steps to improve the health and well-being of people who are facing chronic homelessness, and focusing on housing first may help do that,” said AMA Trustee Ryan J. Ribeira, MD, MPH.
“The AMA remains committed to eliminating health disparities in this country in order to achieve health equity and will continue to push for measures that improve the health of the nation,” Dr. Edwards said.
Among those who exerience homelessness, some health problems are more prevalent than in the general population. More Medicaid patients are visiting the emergency department than ever before because of the growing crisis of poverty, homelessness and decreased number of mental health facilities.
Read their full press release here.
The Quad Cities CROP Hunger Walk is Sunday, October 7. Walkers meet in Davenport at the Freight House Farmers’ Market with registration at 1:00 PM. The Walk will begin at 2:00PM.
Humility Homes and Services is sponsoring a team of walkers and will benefit from a portion of the proceeds that walkers and sponsors raise. Support the global movement to fight hunger and access to clean water by clicking here and joining our team:
CROP Walk is sponsored annually by Church World Services. Humility Homes and Services receives a percentage of the 25% of funds raised by the walk that will help hungry people in the Quad Cities. Other funding will go to world hunger.
The 6K course–spanning both sides of the Mississippi River–symbolizes the distance that a billion people across the globe must walk every day to access clean water.
Church World Services supports developing communities across the globe in bridging the monumental gaps they face in securing clean water and growing nutritious crops for local use.
Church World Service also provides millions of dollars in relief funds to communities damaged by natural disasters. CWS continues to provide much needed resources to people in Puerto Rico recovering from Hurricane Maria.
To donate to the cause, click HERE.
Twice a year, teams of volunteers spread out across the Quad Cities to count people experiencing homelessness that are living on the streets. A separate count is also completed for persons already living in shelters and enrolled in services.
Like the decennial census, federal and state officials use the count to help plan and implement services to benefit the local homeless population. The federal government defines a person as homeless when their “primary nighttime residence is a public or private place not designed for or ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings.”
On July 26, in the span of two hours, our teams found 22 people living in “public and private spaces not designed for human beings.” Twenty-two people in only two hours is a lot of people.
Finding and Connecting to People with No Address
Counting people experiencing homelessness differs from counting housed persons. Instead of completing a form that arrives in a mailbox, our count takes place in parks, parking lots, stairwells, abandoned buildings, and tents and encampments along creeks and waterways. Using tactics similar to those used in hiking, hunting, fishing, or looking for mushrooms in the early spring, we find people by quietly following trails of bottles and cans, food wrappers, human feces, condoms, expired prescription bottles, and used syringes.
During our interaction, we offer food, drink, a brief conversation, and referral cards. We offer shelter, a hot shower, a bottle of water, a few snacks, and our business cards. Most importantly, we offer a human connection and hope for a different future.
Team members leave each interaction also contemplating hope:
- “I hope they will be OK.”
- “I hope they come to the shelter.”
- “If they come in, I hope we can help them.”
- “I hope we can find the housing they need.”
And those hope-filled questions linger for weeks and months.
Counting Homeless: Hope for the Future
We are part of a growing community that believes a home is the foundation on which futures are born. We understand homelessness is a reversible circumstance—and not a personal characteristic. And, we understand the federal definition of homelessness falls distressingly short of addressing the solution to the problem—more housing.
There are thousands of Quad Cities residents and millions across the US who are “under-housed,” “near homeless,” and experiencing “housing instability” and “housing poverty.” Our future is interconnected with their futures. Their challenges are our challenges. Their hope has to be our hope.
Until every person has a home, we will continue to look for people in public and private spaces not designed for human living.
—Christie Adamson, COO of Humility Homes and Services, Inc.
We appreciate KWQC’s local news coverage of the point-in-time survey:
The Board of Directors of Humility of Mary Housing, Inc. and Humility of Mary Shelter, Inc., are pleased to announce the agencies have merged under a new name –
Humility Homes and Services, Inc.
This strategic merger will strengthen our capacity to prevent homelessness and serve those experiencing homelessness in the Greater Quad Cities area. The merger centralizes our administrative, financial, and development functions. Humility Homes and Services commits to utilize best practices and evidence-informed programs with rigorous reporting and evaluation of all of our services. And finally, we will be able to assist with the broader efforts to coordinate and align existing programs and identify gaps in services for persons experiencing a housing crisis in the Quad Cities.
Our main office and the Fresh Start Donation Center continue to be located at 3805 Mississippi Ave., and our emergency shelter and program offices continue to be located at 1016 W. 5th St. in Davenport.
The New York Times described the 1989 National March for Housing best when they wrote, “Tens of thousands of people marched on the Capitol today to protest the shortage of decent, affordable housing. They included homeless men and women, families who rent but cannot afford to buy homes, state and local officials….”
Several Sisters from the Congregation of Humility of Mary in Davenport were among the thousands that marched in DC. Moved by the Congregation’s call to build community by “working for justice within the human family and caring for earth itself,” the Sisters made the 40-hour round trip bus ride to DC. As a result, they returned inspired and strengthened in their faith to end homelessness in the Quad Cities.
Their faith and dedication turned into measurable action. Almost 30 years later, the agencies they launched own or lease 93 supportive housing apartments and operate the area’s only low-barrier, emergency shelter for single adults. The shelter provides short-term housing for up to 70 adults each night. On any given day, 200 persons– including children, parents, single adults, and veterans – can access personal hygiene products, household items, furniture, and clothes at our Fresh Start Donation Center.
“The rent eats first,” notes Matthew Desmond in Evicted, the recent best-seller on America’s housing crisis. According to the United Way’s just published ALICE (Asset Limited Income Constrained Employed) Report, 38% of Quad-City residents must choose between paying for rent, food, health, and education. All residents need housing and food security for our Quad Cities to thrive. When everyone has a place to call home, the Quad Cities will grow stronger and prosper.
Let’s Get Started: Humility Homes and Services, Inc.
Humility Homes and Services, Inc. is committed to build upon three decades of accomplishments. In the weeks ahead, you will see changes that represent our name – including updates to signage, our online presence and monthly communications. We hope you like our changes, and as always we welcome your suggestions. We are grateful for you and that you have chosen to join us in ending homelessness.
by Billie Greenwood,
Humility of Mary Volunteer
For several months each year, my husband and I volunteer where Mexico borders Arizona at a center that gives aid to migrants. In the morning, we cross through an official gate in the border wall (yes, there is one already) into Mexico. We help serve food and provide used clothing. We ourselves haven’t yet seen the separation of families since from the new “zero tolerance” border policy. But, our friends there keep us posted. It’s a mess. And a tragedy. Family separation has rightfully riveted the nation’s attention.
What’s happening on our international border is similar to what’s happening here in our Quad Cities community. In our volunteer work at Humility Mary Housing and Shelter I witness first hand the pain, anxiety, trauma families experience when they become homeless. They find so few options for them to stay together–when they need each other the most.
As a long-time volunteer, I’ve answered phone inquiries from parents and married couples who need emergency housing. At Humility of Mary Shelter’s emergency shelter, adult couples can sleep in the same building—but they must sleep on separate floors. And there’s no accommodations for children. The emergency shelter can help parents, but not their children. So, that turns most families away, because they naturally want to stay together as a family unit.
Family separation scars kids. Traumatized, they try to cope in many different ways. The emotional mark of being separated from parent or guardian can stay with children for the rest of their life, just like a physical scar can. Adverse childhood experiences, such as losing a parent, increases the likelihood of many negative outcomes. It can even shorten one’s life expectancy. So keeping healthy families together is important.
The needs of people in migration are deep. Far from home and any support systems, they’re extremely vulnerable. They have no nearby friends or relatives. People can easily spot them and prey on them.
Migration and Homelessness
Here in the Quad Cities, a family experiencing homelessness will often turn to a relative or friend. They’ll double up or triple up in someone else’s house or apartment. If they stay with someone who’s renting, that host risks losing their own housing by breaking their lease agreement. Staying with an acquaintance is risky for the guest, too, because they’re at the mercy of their host. They can be turned out unexpectedly, sometimes even after “paying” whatever funding they can manage. With no proof and no lease backing them up, they can lose their borrowed roof despite their best efforts.
Families sometimes turn to living in a car or van to stay together. This is unsanitary and uncomfortable. Worse, life on the streets is dangerous. It also lacks stability. Kids miss school. Parents can’t find regular employment when they’ve got no permanent address. Families sometimes separate to provide for the daily functioning of the various members of the family. It’s generally a “last resort” effort. Families want to stay together.
Scott County’s Current Reality
Humility of Mary Housing program lets the family experiencing homelessness live together in a stable environment. Unfortunately, HMHI receives four times more inquiries for assistance than they have the ability to accept. They can help a limited number, and the need is great. Need is growing, not only in Iowa but also in Scott County, according to the newly-released ALICE [Asset-Limited, Income-Constrained, Employed] Report from the United Way.
I can’t fix these national and international problems. But, by dedicating some of my time to those affected by them, I do what I can to address problems that are beyond my ability to solve. Working with others who really care (and who know more than I do) both uplifts and educates me. And, most of all, the inspiration from the families affected by homelessness and migration—both in Davenport and in Mexico–continually remind me what’s really important. They keep going in the face of what looks like insurmountable obstacles. They show me that family is their priority.
Humility of Mary Housing and Humility of Mary Shelter will be hosting a informational meeting about volunteering with the agencies on Tuesday June 26th at 10am. The informational session will take place at Humility of Mary Housing, 3805 Mississippi Ave. in Davenport. Men, women and teens are encouraged to attend.
The meeting will outline the application process, cover current short term and ongoing volunteer needs, review the upcoming Fresh Start Benefit Sale. There are many opportunities to assist us in our mission to support those facing homelessness in our community.
Volunteering hours and days are flexible to meet your busy schedule! If you are looking for a place to make a difference, please come to this meeting and learn more! Please RSVP to Patti, our volunteer coordinator: 563-326-1330.
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This has been an especially challenging week at Humility of Mary Housing and Shelter. The circumstances we’ve faced remind us of the importance of radical acceptance.
When we say that we’re a “housing first” program or that we practice “radical acceptance,” people ask:
“What do you mean?”
Here’s what ‘housing first’ looks like this week:
- When a married couple in their mid-80s shows up at our Shelter door–one in a wheelchair–and tell us, “We have nowhere to go,” our door is open.
- When a young man aged out of the foster care system, has no family and nowhere to go, our door is open.
- When an elderly woman who suffered a recent stroke, cannot clean or bathe herself, is restricted to a wheelchair, is dropped off at our door by a nursing home who tells us they can no longer can care for her, our door is open.
- When a chronically homeless man enters our program who has been struggling with the disease of alcoholism, we stay with him at the hospital – – all day and night–so he doesn’t die alone. Our doors and hearts are open.
Radical acceptance requires us to respond to all who come to and through our doors with empathy and acceptance.
We believe homelessness is fundamentally a social justice issue–a reversible circumstance and not a personal characteristic.
“Our locating ourselves with those who have been endlessly excluded becomes an act of visible protest. Only when we can see a community where the outcast is valued and appreciated will we abandon the values that seek to exclude.”
Be Radical. Be Accepting.
Students and faculty members from Jordan Catholic School in Rock Island joined forces with us last week to improve the Central Community Circle neighborhood and help our participants. Members of EarlyAct, a service club for 5th and 6th grade students that is sponsored by the Rock Island Rotary Club, gave their afternoon to garden work in the Central Community Circle Neighborhood Garden. Shelter is located in the neighborhood and maintains a small garden in the CCC Neighborhood Garden.
Prior to their volunteer work, EarlyAct students discussed homelessness and the importance of housing in their own lives. Then they discussed Humility of Mary and the hundreds of lives we touch every day. They looked for a way to help and planned their own project. The students decided to grow vegetables and flowers from seeds into seedling plants. During their afternoon of service, with the support of Wes Frenell, Shelter’s Permanent Housing Lead, they prepared the Shelter garden plot land. Then, they planted the garden with seedling plants and seeds they contributed. Wes and several of the Supportive Housing participants undertake the shelter plot to provide meaningful and productive activity and healthy food.
In addition, the students distributed mulch donated by the City of Davenport on the back slope of the CCC garden. This will prevent soil erosion and will protect the integrity of the rose bushes that beautify the neighborhood. Billie Greenwood, the garden coordinator exclaimed: “The garden hasn’t looked this good in several years!”
Jordan School Support
Principal Mr. Jacob Smithers, who accompanied the group, pitched in and worked also. So did faculty members and club advisors Mrs. Jennifer Heckenberry and Mrs. Kim Kroft, who also drove the students to the site in vans they borrowed from local Catholic Alleman High School.
The EarlyAct Club is self-supporting and meets twice a month under the guidance of attending faculty and Rotarian advisors. According to the school website, they carry out service projects annually for their school, local community, and/or one which furthers international understanding. In addition to this day of outdoor garden work, the students also volunteered at the Spring Fresh Start Sale, a fund raising event that benefits our participants.
Thank you Jordan Elementary, City of Davenport, Wes, and all who are helping make our neighborhood safe, beautiful, and fun for all!