By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger
DAVENPORT — While Humility of Mary Shelter, Inc. (HMSI) may be best known for offering temporary relief to homeless persons in downtown Davenport, the shelter also offers more permanent options for qualifying adults.
In May, HMSI opened a new housing program to provide 10 additional apartment units to adults experiencing chronic homelessness. The new program, funded by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), extends HMSI’s existing 32 units of permanent supportive housing.
The program’s new apartments are located in Davenport at various sites, and HMSI is working with a variety of local landlords. The first apartment received an occupant May 3. The final occupant moved in May 26.
Participants for the new program were identified through HMSI’s Outreach Team and community referrals. All participants’ situations met the federal definition of chronic homelessness. That is, they resided in a place not meant for human habitation, or a safe haven or an emergency shelter for at least one year or on at least four separate occasions in the last three years.
Christie Adamson, HMSI’s director of program services, said the program works because it doesn’t have a lot of criteria or hoops for people to jump through in order to remain in the program. Each person works with a service coordinator to identify goals regarding increasing income, remaining in stable housing, etc.
“The program offers a lot of flexibility as it is designed for individuals who have been on the streets for a very long time and may suffer from mental health disorders, substance abuse disorders or other ongoing issues.”
Adamson said it has been a “privilege” to hand apartment keys to fellow community members who have experienced homelessness. “Homelessness should happen rarely, and it should always be brief. We have a long way to go to seeing this happen in our community,” but programs like HMSI can make a difference.
One tenant, a male veteran, was able to put down his tent and backpack for the first time as he became one of the first to move into one of the program units. Another tenant experienced homelessness after being laid off from a factory five years ago. He had been living paycheck to paycheck and didn’t have family to rely on. He needed a home address and phone number to give to prospective employers, but without money, he couldn’t afford a home or a phone. He checked into the shelter earlier this year and was able to find full-time work at a pizza restaurant by using the shelter’s address and phone number. Now in one of the new housing units, he has an address of his own for the first time in years.
Humility of Mary Shelter, Inc. was founded in 2008 by Sisters of the Congregation of Humility of Mary. During the last fiscal year, 693 individuals requested and received emergency shelter at HMSI, and 494 individuals entered HMSI programs.