Hopeful girl in the garden

 

Hope House Foundation is LKNConnect’s Outstanding Non-profit for October 2019. Week 1 we were introduced to Hope House and its mission, week 2 we learned about its place in our community, week 3 we learned about volunteering, and week 4 we learned about an innovative program. —EH Stafford, Managing Editor

 

 

Dr. Lee Beth Lindquist, M.D., had a dream to help homeless women and their children in the Lake Norman area who needed a hand-up, not a hand-out in becoming self-sustaining. In her medical practice and volunteer work, Dr. Lindquist realized there was no temporary housing support system for this vulnerable group of women and children within Mecklenburg County.

 

 

Happy boy with artwork

They often go unnoticed

Women and children are the new faces of homelessness. In the affluent area of Lake Norman in northern Charlotte, homelessness had gone virtually undetected or acknowledged for years. In 2009, Hope House opened during a severe economic crisis to provide transitional housing services to women and children.

 

The Lake Norman community

Today, with the help of our community partners such as The Ada Jenkins Center, Lake Norman Community Health Clinic, the faith-based community, numerous businesses, and individuals, Hope House is a community project that provides an environment of supportive services. Called the New Hope Journey, it supports women and their children for six months who are experiencing situational homelessness.

 

Stress and trauma

Families experiencing homelessness are under considerable stress. Homelessness is a devastating experience that significantly impacts the health and wellbeing of adults and children. Often, members of homeless families have experienced trauma. These experiences affect how children and adults think, feel, behave, relate, and cope. Homelessness is a community problem that requires a community solution.

 

One of the fastest growing segments

In today’s economy, women with children who are solely responsible for the economic welfare of their families are one of the fastest growing segments of people experiencing homelessness. Too often women find themselves displaced from their home if they lose their job, their health, their financial partner, or  she experiences a crisis that causes their safety net to become loose and break.

 

Thousands of children are homeless

Every year, hundreds of thousands of American families become homeless, including more than 1.6 million children. In CMS, on any given night in 2018, over 4,388 children were experiencing homelessness. These families are hidden from our view. They move frequently. Many are doubled-up in overcrowded apartments with relatives or friends. Some sleep in cars or parks nearby.

 

There are many reasons

Family homelessness is caused by the combined effects of lack of affordable housing, unemployment, limited access to resources and supports, health, and mental health challenges, the challenges of raising children as a single parent, and/or the experiences of violence. As the gap between housing costs and income continues to widen, more and more families are at risk of homelessness. Even a seemingly minor event can trigger a catastrophic outcome and catapult a family onto the streets.

 

Hope becomes a reality

Our home may look a lot like yours. The children do homework, play outside, pick out pumpkins and have family meals! Just like a child who has a stable home, we strive to create the same experiences for the children of Hope House. Hope becomes reality when a four-year-old who has never slept in a bed tells you he has found his happy place!

 

Happy boy in the pumpkin patch

For more information and to volunteer or donate

Contact Hope House Foundation.

 

Debbie O'Handley, Executive Director

 

Debbie O’Handley has dedicated her career to finding hope and healing for homeless women and children. By focusing on the quality of life of this vulnerable population, Debbie has worked hard to create sustainable programs for families to feel safe, proud, and provide opportunities for parents to partner with their children for a brighter future.

 

In 2014, Hope House Foundation hired Debbie as their Executive Director. She brings her experience interacting with key decision-makers, community leaders, and family support agencies to raise awareness of the plight of the situationally homeless. In 2016, Debbie was voted as one of the seven top area not-for-profit leaders in the Lake Norman community.