Freedom from homelessness: Our democracy in action!

democracyThe 4th of July weekend is the ultimate summer celebration. It launches picnics, ice cream, fireworks and memories galore.   Amidst all of the celebrations and festivities, the 4th of July reminds us of the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the words we hold so dear:

“…We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. …”

The principles and values described in the Declaration of Independence are uniquely American.  As a democratic society, we work to uphold and protect these values  each day. We know that in 1776, in a practical sense, the Declaration of Independence applied to and benefitted a certain class of persons with wealth and property. However, over time, the words themselves caught the imagination of persons and communities left out from the original text. The values, “all men created equal”, “unalienable rights”, “life, liberty, and happiness” transcended the original class of men and appealed to women, persons of color, all persons who did not own property. 

Today, thanks to historic and ongoing social justice struggles, American democracy and the Declaration of Independence includes millions more persons than did its original text.

There’s much for us to celebrate in the Declaration of Independence. It’s the foundation of our 241 year old democracy.  And, the struggles to realize and preserve its fullest potential continue. 

For many of our neighbors and friends, finding safe and stable homes from which they can establish their own foundation – – their personal declaration of independence – – seems remote.  And indeed, our sisters and brothers who are experiencing homelessness also have a right to reach their fullest potential. 

Finding affordable homes in the Quad Cities remains difficult for many:

  • persons and families with extremely low-incomes,
  • those working two or three jobs,
  • military veterans coping with PTSD and other combat related injuries, and
  • people with mental health and substance use challenges. 

Taking on homelessness is a big challenge.  And–with your help–Humility of Mary is working to address the root causes of homelessness. We’re keeping families and children safe.

HMHI bringing freedom

Our programs are showing great results. Our participants are building new and stronger foundations, creating safer and healthier environments for growth and long-term change. With the help of our program, two parents have recently reached their goals by earning their degrees in nursing and criminal justice. They can now join us in giving back to the community.  Click here to read an example. 

So far in 2017, eight households have advanced. They’ve moved into permanent housing opportunities of their own. New families are moving in. They look forward to bright futures for themselves and their children. By fully embracing the programs we offer, they’re more likely to reach their full potential as individuals and families.

The children in our programs are also affected. When children see mom or dad turning life around, getting degrees and jobs, they, in turn, begin to dream big dreams for themselves. We currently have a 14 year old who knows one day he will be a veterinarian. He has created a business card, and he’s mowing lawns to save for his education. The spark of a dream glows brightly in his mind. He’s developing his entrepreneurial skills as he works to save for his future. We’re helping him reach his full capacity.

Back in 1776, men of great vision and uncompromising spirit, gathered and drafted the Declaration of Independence. It was the beginning of a historic journey for all Americans to embrace freedom. We know that some thought it couldn’t be done. Naysayers said we’d never attain freedom. But, ‘We the People’ prevailed.  As it was then, it can be now. Join with Humility of Mary as we pursue this vision: homelessness doesn’t belong in the QCA.

The “self-evident truths” we hold dear are as true today as they were 241 years ago.

Message from a grateful HMHI program participant

Tina
Tina, a participant in HMHI’s permanent supportive housing program, expresses her appreciation and gratitude.

With the help of our supporters, HMHI can provide assistance to struggling and grateful single parent families in need. While many are aware of the housing assistance we provide to families who have nowhere to live, many are unaware of the many supportive elements of assistance we offer. With the help of wrap-around assistance, it becomes possible for families to regain their footing and eventually exit our program once  again self-sufficient and able to choose housing that they can afford.

This is a note of appreciation from one family who are grateful for all the support they are receiving:

“Humility of Mary Housing has been a godsend for my daughter and me. We are so thankful for the program.

There have been times when I couldn’t afford the copay for my medications, and HMHI helped me get them. The group meetings are very informative and have given me the opportunity to meet other program participants, who have become my friends.

They also have fun activities for our kids to do.

I feel like everyone who works for HMHI is like our family. They acknowledge our accomplishments.

I don’t know what I would have done or where my daughter and I would be living today if it were not for Humility of Mary Housing.”  ~Tina

Help HMHI give 10 families a home for the holidays!

a home for holidays
What better gift can we give a family experiencing homelessness than a home for the holidays? Be part of the magic! Volunteer!

We at HMHI have an immediate need for volunteers to help prepare apartments for ten families to move in before Christmas.  Dates of need are fluid; flexibility will be a key.

Volunteers will be deep cleaning; kitchens, bathrooms and other living areas. It’s all interior work. All work will be done Monday through Friday between the hours of 8 am and 4 pm.  No evenings or Saturdays involved. We will provide cleaning materials and supplies for you and/or your group. We will accommodate your availability.

Together we can get ten families out of the cold and into their own home for Christmas.  What better gift can any of us give than this?!  Please call Patti for further details and to sign up, 563-326-1330.

A Reflection on Anne Frank, the Quad Cities and Homelessness

Anne Frank
Anne Frank

Today in history….Anne Frank and her family went into hiding. They lived for two years in a secret room inside a warehouse before being discovered and sent to concentration camps. Her diary was found two years after her death and published.

Anne and her family fled and hid to avoid the horrible events of life. Anne’s parents did what they could to protect those children. In the same way our participant parents are doing things to protect their children. In one case a mother reported that as she watched her children duck under the beds when shooting started in the street outside, she knew in that instance that she had to move, to get her children out of there.

When life around us can’t be controlled, powerful forces sometimes push us into unpleasant circumstances. At HMHI, we help catch families who are forced to flee and start over. We offer housing and support for families in crisis.

​It was late in World War II that America started to hear about the concentration camps; we didn’t know the horrors that existed for the victims of Hitler until it was too late for most. But communications keep us more informed now. We can all see that many are experiencing homeless around us. We can’t say that we don’t know.

Because we do know.

Homelessness actually affects all of us. It affects business, tourism, and it increases costs to the state that are passed on to taxpayers. But, most importantly, homelessness affects our spirit: individually as a city, as the Quad Cities, as a state and as a nation.

HMHI is here at work in the Quad Cities Area to help those in need. With your help every day we are able to house, clothe and feed these families in crisis. Each family has two years, not in a secret room, yet sheltered from the world, to rebuild their lives, to gain education and employment. Two years to regain their purpose and sense of self. With your help we are getting these families back on track, we rejoice when each family leaves us for we know our work is done.

Thank you for continuing to help support our families.

State, local budget cuts may increase homelessness, says new brief

State and local budget cuts are leading to increased vulnerability and may ultimately lead to increases in homelessness. This conclusion appears today in a new brief from the National Alliance to End Homelessness.

A key finding in the brief, entitled Economy Bytes: Effect of State and Local Budget Cuts on Homelessness, is the identification of nine states where an elevated level of vulnerability exists. This designation reflects:

  • a homelessness rate higher than the national rate,
  • multiple risk factors for increasing homelessness, and
  • cuts to either public sector jobs or public assistance.

Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Louisiana, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington, DC.. Four states among these nine have the highest levels of vulnerability because they made cuts to both public sector jobs and public assistance. These four states are Arizona, Louisiana, Oregon, and Washington, DC .

U.S. map showing areas of increased vulnerability to becoming homeless. Courtesy of National Alliance to End Homelessness.

The brief, which is the third in the Economy Bytesseries, also details how in the past two fiscal years (2010 and 2011), 24 states and the District of Columbia made cuts to public assistance and 34 made cuts to public sector jobs.

Today, in a related news event, the Senate passed and the President signed the Budget Control Act of 2011. What will that mean for future U.S. budgeting? What will happen next? Here’s a concise summation from the National Alliance to End Homelessness:

… the Act sets up a bipartisan committee, comprised of senators and representatives selected by each chamber’s leadership, tasked with reducing the deficit by an additional $1.5 trillion over 10 years. This committee must agree on where the necessary spending cuts or revenue increases will come from by November 23, 2011, and the committee’s plans must be approved by both the House and Senate by December 23, 2011. If a deal is not reached by December 23, cuts will automatically be triggered that would cut spending across the board (defense and non-defense spending) by $1.2 trillion spread evenly over 10 years. Programs targeted toward low-income individuals and families would largely be exempt from these automatic cuts, though the specifics of this provision remain unclear.
The national Catholic social justice lobbying group NETWORK reminds its members that:

A moral budget prioritizes programs that provide for those who are poor and vulnerable.

Let us work toward a moral budget that keeps people in appropriate, safe and healthy housing and allows families to live together.

This video news clip from Colorado Springs details local fears of how upcoming budget cuts could affect every sector of their community, including those on disability:
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nOyy-msCi1Y?rel=0]

Summer & School Vacation: Reminding us why a home is so important

outdoor play equipment
With school on summer break, our children have more time for outdoor play.

As schools close for summer break, children need homes to which they can return for the summer months. Year round, homes provide stability and structure to children, assets they need to help them grow.

Homelessness affects children’s school performance, a reality that a recent report from Milwaukee attests. In the Milwaukee public school district, Hopkins Street School Psychologist Amanda McEwen says the staff deal with the effects of homelessness every day:

“With the little ones you’ll see acting out and temper tantrums. In the middle school students you’ll see anger, and violence, and fighting. And a lot of it is that underlying anxiety, and often times, depression, resulting from situations where they don’t know where they’re going to get their next meal, they don’t know where they’re going to be sleeping, they don’t know who is going to be home when they get home,” she says.


Summer’s here. Kids are home from school. It is deeply satisfying to us at HMHI to be about the work of providing homes where children know that they belong.

Thank you for helping us do that.