Our Executive Director Emily Harvey recently visited with Channel 4 news to explain our services to the public. In this short interview, you’ll see the scope of services that help those in need and improve the standard of living here in the Quad Cities.
Is local homelessness getting worse? How many people do Humility of Mary Shelter assist on a daily basis? What services can people receive? What does “success” look like for a person we serve? What would be most helpful? Learn all this and more in just a few minutes by viewing this interview.
On February 2, Congressman Dave Loebsack and Staff toured Humility of Mary Shelter. The Congressman listened to participants describe the barriers they face in finding stable housing in the Davenport and the greater Quad Cities. He also thanked Humility of Mary Staff to keep up the good work and encouraged all of us to continue the advocacy for housing stability. Thank you, Congressman Loebsack for your visit!
We are really good at hiding problems in our community. When it comes to homelessness in the Quad Cities, we know that there are between 500 and 600 people who are homeless every single day in our community. Last year, the Davenport Public Schools knew of at least 200 children who were homeless and were still enrolled in school and trying to attend every day. But we are really good at making the problem of homelessness invisible in our community. Humility of Mary Shelter has already provided over 10,000 nights of shelter within the last 6 months, ensuring people experiencing homelessness are not literally on our streets. And we are just one of many organizations doing this work.
So why is this an issue for the women’s march? Because, nationwide, 70% of the individuals who fall below the federal poverty level are women and children. Because 90% of the individuals who receive benefits under the government’s Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program are single-parent moms. Think about that for a moment. Every time a politician talks about cutting funding to this program or adding work requirements to this program or cutting off the length of time someone can be eligible for benefits under this program – 9 times out of 10 this will affect women.
We like to think we take care of our own. And we have social service agencies providing housing and services to individual experiencing homelessness in the Quad Cities. But that’s just a band aid on a much bigger problem. Here in the Quad Cities, a single-mom will wait, on average, 8 years for Section 8 housing assistance. And if she tries to do it by herself. Well, that same single mom working a minimum wage job in our community will have to work at least 99 hours every single week to be able to afford a 3 bedroom apartment for her family. And that’s because we have 7,155 extremely low income households competing for 423 units of affordable housing. We simply do not have enough affordable housing in our community.
But we cannot stop with a one-dimensional analysis of this problem. This is a women’s march, but to truly work towards social justice, we must witness multiple perspectives. We know that women are disproportionately negatively impacted by the problem by homelessness. But this experience only becomes more complex for women of color, women who identify as transgender, queer, and intersex, and women who are differently abled.
Nationwide, 40% of individuals who are homeless have a diagnosed disability. Locally, 50% of the participants Humility of Mary Shelter serves have a diagnosed mental illness. Yet, we live in a bi-state community where one of these states – Iowa – ranks 47th in the nation due to the limited number of psychologists and psychiatrists available. Iowa also ranks 51st in the nation, including the District of Columbia, for the number of mental health beds available to the public. And if we look at just two of the root causes of homelessness: violence and poverty, the picture becomes even more alarming. 70% of the families served by Humility of Mary Housing identify intimate partner violence as a factor in their homelessness. We know that women with disabilities are more likely to experience sexual violence, physical violence, stalking, psychological aggression, and control of reproductive health than women without disabilities. Additionally, women with disabilities are 25% more likely to live in poverty than men with disabilities. Some of this is due to the cost of health care in our country. In 2015, medical bills forced more than 11 million people into poverty; yet Social Security payments average 44% below the federal poverty level.
Race and ethnicity are another dimension of identity and experience that are correlated with different outcomes for those experiencing homelessness. Nationally, African Americans make up 12% of the population; yet African Americans are 42% of the nation’s homeless population. Hispanic and Latino persons represent 12% of the national population; yet reflect 20% of the nation’s homeless population. Native Americans are 1% of our national population; yet are 4% of our national homeless population. Again, if we are looking at poverty and violence as factors in homelessness, we see why an intersectional approach is essential to our work. Unfortunately, we know that Native American women experience the highest rates of poverty in our country, followed closely by black women. For every dollar a white non-hispanic male makes, a white woman makes 78 cents, yet a black woman makes only 64 cents. Black lesbian couples experience a 21% poverty rate compared to a 4% poverty rate for white lesbian couples. And women of color, especially black women, experience the highest rates of intimate partner violence.
For women who identify as transgender, queer, and intersex, the system of services created to address the problem of homelessness are frequently sites of discrimination and abuse. Nationwide, 47% of transgender, queer, and intersex women who have stayed in emergency shelters left early due to the treatment they received; 25% of transgender, queer, and intersex women reported being physically assaulted in homeless shelters; and 22% reported being sexually assaulted in shelters. The criminalization of homelessness is another area that has disproportionately impacted transgender women. In general, homeless veterans, youth, women, and individuals of color are more likely to be arrested and incarcerated than white homeless individuals. Yet, transgender women, especially transgender women of color are more likely to experience physical violence when interacting with law enforcement.
I know I’ve painted a rather depressing picture of the systems individuals and families find themselves caught in when they are homeless. So what do we do with this information? Most importantly, we must remember that this information reflects deficits within social structures. It does not represent the agency and resourcefulness demonstrated by the individuals, families, and communities who find themselves forced to navigate these social structures on a daily basis in order to survive. We recognize and honor the fact that women who are experiencing homelessness are living their lives everyday with courage and resilience. Last year at Humility of Mary Housing, 80% of the families who left our program moved into permanent housing. These families overcame the trauma and challenges of homelessness, poverty, violence, and everything else that was thrown at them and moved on to create safe, lasting homes of their own. At Humility of Mary Shelter, we have 50 permanent supportive housing units full of individuals who are maintaining safe, long-term housing and are fully integrated into neighborhoods throughout our community.
In addition to using an empowerment based approach to our work, we look for like-minded allies in movements also working toward achieving human rights for all persons. And we sometimes develop relationships with unexpected partners. Humility of Mary Shelter has partnered with local police departments to create a system for law enforcement to transport individuals experiencing homelessness directly to our emergency shelter 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Our community has several ordinances criminalizing homelessness, but now, instead of arresting someone for the offense of sleeping in public or loitering or begging, law enforcement can bring them to our shelter. Within the last 6 months, at least 50 individuals have sought shelter, potentially avoiding arrest, through the partnership we have with local law enforcement.
We must also advocate for policies that protect everyone, such as HUD’s Equal Access Rule, which bans discrimination against transgender individuals in emergency shelters. And we must hold each other accountable to ensure these policies are implemented.
And finally, in order for the women’s march to succeed, we must listen with open hearts and minds to the diversity of experience within this movement.
As the President and Congress begin to negotiate rebuilding the US infrastructure, let’s remind them affordable homes and safe neighborhoods are at the foundation of a community’s infrastructure.
Nationwide, for every 100 of the lowest income households, there are just 35 rentals homes affordable and available to them. Right here in Scott County Iowa, there are 7,155 households earning less than $20,150.00 per year but only 423 housing rental housing units available to those families.
Families are being forced into unsustainable leases, paying more than 50% of their monthly income, or doubling and tripling up with family members and friends.
Affordable rental homes for working families, seniors, and people with disabilities is foundational infrastructure.
Any new infrastructure investment plan must include increased funding to the national Housing Trust Fund, a tool designed to increase the supply of affordable homes for those with the greatest needs; an expansion of Housing Choice Vouchers to help connect struggling families to areas of opportunity; and resources to repair and rehabilitate the nation’s public housing stock to preserve this asset for current tenants and future generations.
New and repaired roads and bridges must connect families living in decent, affordable homes to jobs, services and communities.
See link for more information on ways to impact Congress!
We are in need of baby cribs and toddler beds for new families that have recently moved into the Humility of Mary Housing Program. If you have a clean, gently used crib or toddler bed, with all the parts and hardware, please consider donating it to us.
Donations are received at the Fresh Start Donation Center, Monday through Friday 8am to 4pm, 3805 Mississippi Ave, in Davenport. Please call Patti at 563-326-1330 for more information. Thank you!
Special thank you to our community partners at Davenport Schools for donating another 40 lockers from the former JB Young campus. The School District has donated 80 lockers to the Humility of Mary Shelter since last fall. Participants in our Shelter program will now have a locker to safely store their possessions while working with Shelter staff to connect to services and find affordable, long-term housing that meets their needs.
The awesome team at Two Men and a Truck offered pro bono help in moving and installing the lockers for the Shelter. Two Men and a Truck is making a big difference across the US in being a part of the solution to end homelessness. Thank You!
Sheila Parker is a single parent of four daughters. During a challenging time in her life in 2007, Sheila found Humility of Mary Housing as a resource to help stabilize her housing situation, support her in raising her daughters, and find encouragement to return to school. Today, Sheila has degrees as a Certified Nurses Assistant (CNA) and Medical Assistant (MA). She sustains two careers – – working at the Shell Gas Station at 3622 N. Brady in Davenport and running her own business providing home-based support with the elderly. Three of Sheila’s four daughters have graduated from college. Her youngest will graduate soon.
Since the day after Thanksgiving, Sheila and other staff at the Shell Gas Station at 3622 N. Brady Street in Davenport have collected household and clothes items for Housing and Shelter participants. Over the last two weeks, Shell Gas Station collected six large totes of items, valued at over $400.00!
“I just wanted to help make sure Humility of Mary participants had all the things I had during my rough time,” Sheila said.
We’ve set up a new program to distribute clothing and personal supplies to people in need at our emergency shelter. We’ve called this new center our Fresh Start Corner Closet. It’s stocked with much-needed seasonal clothing and toiletries that have been donated to us by people, businesses and agencies in the Quad Cities.
We opened this new center for the first time at 8 am on Monday, December 4…right on schedule. The Closet served 60 participants in the first 5 days of operation! It’s located on the same block as our shelter, but in a different building. That provides new space and allows for a more organized approach to distribution of these basics.
A phenomenal volunteer team from Quad City Bank & Trust and QCR Holdings, Inc. helped move the supplies from the basement storage closet at Shelter to the new location. In just three hours the team boxed and moved all the stock, dismantled and reassembled all the shelving, and sorted and restocked this clothing pantry. This was a Herculean effort and we are so grateful for their help!
We are eager for volunteers to help us staff the Closet. And, we welcome donations of clean, usable used and new clothing for adults. Personal hygiene supplies are also in demand. To find out how you can donate or volunteer to help, call Patti at 563-326-1330.
For many of us, the holiday season and approaching New Year represent a time for reflection and to make preparations for a fresh start. For Scott (fictitious name), his fresh start has been several years in the making and culminated this month in successfully moving out of our housing program!
There is a lot of activity on Wall Street, Amazon.com, and shopping malls preparing for the holiday season and 2018. We are also experiencing high demand for services at our Shelter and requests for housing assistance. Since July 1 there have been 10,231 over-night stays in our women’s and men’s shelter. Fifty-two different families contacted our Housing Office for housing assistance and referrals in October.
Housing rights advocates and homeless services organizations like Humility of Mary understand homeless shelters are not the solution to ending homelessness. Homeless shelters are expensive to operate and manage. And similar to jails / prisons, juvenile detention centers, hospital emergency rooms, behavior health units, homeless shelters too often provide the last refuge for persons who have “fallen through the cracks.”
But for many experiencing a critical housing crisis, shelters like Humility of Mary Shelter are life-saving. Our first priority is to offer safety, stability, and trust. We ask questions later. Low-barrier shelters like ours provide a place to receive unconditional support to help repair damaged relationships of the past and the foundation and stepping stones to developing a fresh start.
Scott is a US Military Veteran. He has struggled with substance use and mental health challenges.
Scott has been living in HMSI’s Permanent Supportive Housing Program for 4 years. There, he worked on goals, such as going back to work, reconnecting with family and maintaining sobriety. Scott’s Service Coordinators brought wrap-around services to him, in his own safe apartment. Now, he is benefiting from those multiple contacts and relationships with Shelter, veterans’ programs, our Permanent Supportive Housing Program, and Davenport Housing Authority.
4 Years Prep for Fresh Start
After four years of being on Davenport’s Section 8 waiting list, and making progress on addressing his goals, Scott moved into his own apartment the first week of December. Scott will remain in contact with his Humility of Mary Service Coordinator. He’s well on his way to long-term stability with a good paying job and a fresh start to 2018.
Congratulations Scott! May your Fresh Start in 2018 be blessed and supported by those who love you and those you love.