Michelle’s Corner 3.23.2021
Housing is Essential!
A year ago, the word “essential” took on a life of its own as we adjusted almost overnight to our new normal in the pandemic. Nonessential businesses, services, and employees were expected to close or go home, and we all struggled to decide who, then, was defined as essential.
A grocery store? A bank? A school? A fire department? We all had to figure out what needed to be done on site, and what could be done from a distance.
At ShelterCare we learned that a pandemic made our work even MORE essential.
The staff at ShelterCare strive to help individuals find housing and/or keep housing which is more than finding an affordable unit. That by itself is a challenge. The staff support in the form of skills training, behavioral health counseling, peer support, navigation through systems and much more is what makes the difference between success and failure for the participants in our programs.
Housing is essential, and housing is more than a roof over your head. It’s the ability to say, “This is my place. I feel safe here. I’m in control of my life here.” Without that stability, it’s close to impossible to move onto accomplishing other goals like getting employment, healing from an illness, recovering from an addiction, or getting desired education.
When a pandemic is layered on top of these goals, it becomes clear that housing isn’t just essential for the individual or family: access to housing is essential for the public health and safety of the community as a whole.
Affordable, safe housing is essential for the economic development of a community and for the success of local businesses. Companies seeking a resilient place to establish headquarters or new locations want to know that their employees will be able to raise their families and become part of the community.
Housing is essential as part of an infrastructure around public education and university life. Children of all ages, and their parents, can’t be expected to learn if they aren’t certain that they will have a stable place to do their homework every evening and get enough sleep at night.
The participants who apply and are referred to ShelterCare programs may have barriers that they must face, side-by-side with our staff, but they have the desire to overcome those challenges. Our consumers are our partners in their journey, and sometimes those journeys include some steps backwards.
But one thing is certain: housing is essential on that journey. Won’t you join us?