Home: it is a word that brings warm and tingly feelings, reminiscences and memories.
Often it is something we associate with comfort, familiarity or the chaotic happiness of family. Home becomes part of our identity, our past and part of our dream for the future. But what happens when we do not have a place to call home? Do we lose a part of our core identity?
For many, not having a place to call home has become part of their reality.
For countless reasons, they find themselves living on the street again. When this cycle of homelessness continues for more than a year, the person is labeled as chronically homeless. This becomes their new identifier, part of their new description. It is a hard road on which to find yourself and often has other challenges intermixed (trauma, addictions, mental health).
Fortunately, there are people like Alison Cunningham, CEO of Columbus House (CT), who work hard to find people a place to call home again- permanently.
She believes that the answer to homelessness is housing. Not only does Columbus House work on getting people who are chronically homeless off the street, but they also work with individuals to gain the tools they need to stay off. Case management personnel work with people on getting a form of identification, a steady income, job skill training, physical and mental health treatment and giving veteran assistance. New residents are checked in on monthly to give support, guidance and assistance.
This gives people a chance to create a home for themselves again.
It is an opportunity to get a job and take care of themselves. They receive a place they can give meaning, where they can create comfort and reassurance. They also get a part of themselves back- this sense of security allows them to address their personal needs.
Homelessness is a global problem, but I am confident that over time, and with people willing to think outside the box, we can work together to solve it.
By Lyndsi Petitti