Two individuals experiencing homelessness have achieved stable housing in the past month. Neither of them received a housing subsidy of any kind. According to Angela Maxwell, CAH’s Homeless Outreach Specialist, “They did most of the work on their own. My support was just keeping them going, and encouraging them.” Along the way, Angela provided support as they navigated a host of challenges, complex systems that can be a nightmare of stress without a safe place to live or sleep. “I am happy, and super grateful, but logistically, the best part of these relationships was just being there, pushing them not to give up, to give hope, to give focus.” She met with them as often as every day to check in, encouraging while acknowledging their reality, focused on moving forward.
“All of this reminds me how important the human element is. In positions like this, it is easy to get worked about logistics things, like was this the right form? is this referral going to help? It can all be helpful, but just being positive and keeping them focused on the next step is critical to the work.” Angela recalled one of the individuals sharing that, “I really almost gave up three different times, and I really appreciate you keeping me focused.” It reminds her how important it is just to be supportive and encouraging.
As the coldest part of winter passes, CAH’s Homeless Street Outreach staff are looking towards the future. Meeting with 80-100 clients on a regular basis throughout Ottawa County, they hope to continue to provide support that sometimes seems small, but is always remarkable. “I try my best to leave every meeting smiling, feeling better, and with some sense of hope.”
Looking ahead, Community Action House is looking forward to a new drop-in and shower program to be launched in February of 2019, in partnership with First United Methodist Church of Holland. Interested community members are invited to attend an orientation and training on Tuesday, February 5th to learn more about actively supporting local work affecting individuals experiencing homelessness. Please contact Angela directly to learn more: firstname.lastname@example.org and (616) 392-2368 ext. 130.
CAH’s Homeless Street Outreach Program was launched in 2017, and is made possible by financial support from community members like you and funding from the Greater Ottawa County United Way, Michigan State Housing Development Authority, and is delivered in partnership with the Lakeshore Housing Alliance.