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Aug 29, 2019

Homelessness Is Not In Anyone's Plan - Ms. Knox's

Ms. Knox
Ms. Knox

Originally from the French Quarter in New Orleans, Louisiana, Ms. Knox became displaced after her life was turned upside down by the devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Although she spent some time in Omaha, Nebraska, Ms. Knox eventually settled in Houston where another hurricane would eventually wreak havoc on her life once again.

 Ms.Knox, a grandmother to over 35 grandchildren, never thought she would have to deal with the after effects of not just one, but two major hurricanes. After Hurricane Harvey, flood waters forced her out of her home in August of 2017 and she found temporary shelter in a hotel. Once the time came for her to leave the hotel, the only option she had left was sleeping in her car. Eventually Ms. Knox ended up losing her car and was forced to live out of a tent in North Houston.

“I was battling with insects and racoons in the woods, I really thought I had gone through the worst of it, but I was wrong,” said Ms. Knox. “I was originally diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006 and had a mastectomy; about a year ago I found a lump again for the first time since being in remission, and after they did a biopsy, they determined my cancer was back for a second time.”

Ms. Knox knew she didn’t want to battle cancer again, much less battle it without a roof over her head. She says she feels eternally grateful to 1960 Hope Center, a partner organization of The Way Home that offers shelter from inclement weather, clean restrooms, hot showers, laundry facilities, lunch and more, for leading her towards a permanent housing solution. Through the Hope Center, Ms. Knox was able to get connected with Fernando Torres at Avenue 360 Health and Wellness, who worked diligently to find her a home of her own again.

In early November Ms. Knox was finally about to walk through the doors of her new home with help from Harmony House. “It was really overwhelming at first, I was extremely restless for the first few nights,” said Ms. Knox. “When you’re used to fighting off the elements and rodents, it takes a little while to get used to.”

Although Ms. Knox will be battling her cancer head-on in the months ahead, she says she feels so blessed that she can have a home to come back to every day. She said the next steps will be determining the right course of treatment and if any additional surgeries will be needed.

When asked what she wishes others knew about those experiencing homelessness, Ms. Knox said, “Don’t be judgmental towards anyone, homelessness really can happen to anyone. Do you think I pictured myself living in the woods fighting off the elements for over a year? Absolutely not.

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Jun 13, 2019

The Story of Tammy

After surviving domestic violence and other life-altering events, Tammy found herself experiencing homelessness. For over five years, she had been able to access resources from Salvation Army and a local women's center, while living unsheltered between streets and tents.

It wasn't until Tammy was connected with Volunteers of America (VOA) in Conroe, Texas, that she began to gain back the hope that she had lost. Through VOA, Tammy was able to get connected with The Way Home's Permanent Supportive Housing resources and begin the process of finding a home of her own again.

Tammy has recently moved into her new apartment, filled with new furniture and move-in essentials courtesy of the Welcome Home Fund. "Words cannot express how grateful I am to have a place to heal and start to grow deep roots," said Tammy

Thanks to donations to the Welcome Home Fund we are able to offer stablizazation for Tammy and other clients like her.

Coming next, we have a project that is aiming towards Housing Harvey's Homeless. Local studies reveal that nearly 20% of unsheltered homeless individuals, and 50% of “first-time” homeless individuals, are homeless because of Harvey.Hurricane Harvey not only caused an increase in street homelessness, but also created a homeless population with unique and ever-changing challenges, such as severe behavioral health issues and expanding encampments. The ability to quickly transition these vulnerable individuals off the streets and into housing is crucial to responding to these emerging issues. This project will need the same type of on-going support to help welcome those whose lives were forever changed by Harvey, Home.

Mar 18, 2019

Welcome Home Fund Impact 2018

The Welcome Home Fund is a restricted fund that is managed by the Coalition for the Homeless that supports the work of The Way Home by removing barriers for people moving into permanent housing. The Welcome Home Fund provides Welcome Baskets full of home goods, furniture, and one-time financial assistance for things like deposits that other funding sources may not cover. The Welcome Home Fund would not be an available resource if it was not for our incredible individual donors, private foundation supporters, and community partners leading in-kind donation drives.

As we begin our work in 2019, we first wanted to look back on the accomplishments of the Welcome Home Fund in 2018.

Our Accomplishments In 2018

First and foremost, because of your commitment, we removed barriers for more than 650 individuals and welcomed them home in 2018. Specifically, we:
•provided 430 individuals with crucial funds to assist with the payment of rental applications, deposits, and utility deposits;
•furnished 100 apartments for clients in apartments throughout Harris, Fort Bend, and Montgomery Counties;
•supplied over 600 Welcome Baskets to partner agencies of the Way Home for their clients moving into permanent housing;
•worked with 15 various faith-based organizations, schools, and businesses to host Welcome Basket in-kind drives; and
•connected groups doing other, non-Welcome Basket in-kind donation drives to partner agencies in need

Before the creation of the Welcome Home Fund, case managers and housing navigators often had to scramble to find “extra” money in their budgets (or even pay out of their own pockets!) for things like home supplies and deposits. In total, more than $275,000 in funding and in-kind goods were collected by the Coalition in 2018 and disbursed to direct service provider partners of The Way Home so their clients could move into permanent housing.

Looking To The Future

We will need over $375,000 in monetary and in-kind support to match the move-in projections for individuals and families leaving homelessness in 2019.

All donations are welcome! In 2019 we will continue our work as the “hub” for direct in-kind community donations to partners of The Way Home. We will also help provide in-kind drive supplies including boxes and flyers to any organizations, clubs, or groups willing to host a Welcome Basket drive. This is a great way for your group of colleagues, students or friends to support the work of the Way Home.

Be sure to follow The Coalition and The Way Home on social media to stay up-to-date on our successes and information on how to take action! We are also planning on kicking off a number of education initiatives and campaigns to help community members learn how to maximize the impact of their donations and generosity, and empower the public to “be the key” to ending homelessness. Stay tuned for more information on these projects!

Lastly, if you have any suggestions or inquiries about the work of the Welcome Home fund we invite you to connect with Renee Cavazos, the Development Coordinator for the Coalition at rcavazos@homelesshouston.org. We’d love to hear your ideas!

Thank you again to everyone who has supported our work – without you, we would not have been able to create warm and welcoming homes for nearly 700 people in 2018. With a 51% reduction in homelessness since 2011, the partners of The Way Home have proven that we accomplish more when we work together toward shared goals. You are a critical part of that success and we are excited to work with you in 2019!

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