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Our view: Tackling homelessness in McHenry County

(Continued from Page 1)

There’s no place like home.

It’s a phrase about 40 women and children will embody next month as they move from homeless shelters into permanent housing.

In September, Home of the Sparrow, a transitional housing service for low-income women and children, partnered with the Housing Opportunity Development Corp. to renovate and build affordable, low-rent homes. Three duplexes were built, one three-unit home was restored in Woodstock, and one two-unit home was renovated in Fox River Grove.

The $1.9 million project was paid for through the federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program, which is administered by the Illinois Housing Development Authority.

John Jones, executive director of Home of the Sparrow, said the housing helps meet the organization’s goal of moving women and children from homelessness to self-sufficiency.

The benefits of a permanent residence cannot be overstated. There’s a sense of security for families that likely have had little. Children who may have had to switch schools multiple times as they move around will have a stable educational environment to attend. Helping children achieve stability should lead to fewer people needing assistance from government programs and social service agencies.

It’s naive to think homelessness isn’t a problem in McHenry County: A point-in-time count in January done by the McHenry County PADS, part of the Pioneer Center for Human Services, found about 200 homeless individuals in the county. And there’s likely more.

It’s foolish too to assume that these women would no longer be homeless if they would “just get a job,” as homelessness a multifaceted problem. The National Alliance to End Homelessness has found homelessness for families is usually caused by an unforeseen housing or financial crisis, a death in the family, a medical emergency, or abuse. Sometimes, it’s a combination of several of those.

With the fragile economy of recent years, coupled with rising costs, it’s understandable that many find themselves in unstable situations. Look at just housing: The Home of the Sparrow says the average rent for a two-bedroom apartment in McHenry County is $1,015 a month.

More than 100 homeless women and children annually reside in Home of the Sparrow’s shelters; according to the organization’s website, the average monthly income of families when they enter is $77. When they leave, it’s $1,450.

You do the math.

We commend Home of the Sparrow and the Housing Opportunity Development Corp. for helping these women get on their feet, and we hope more partnerships committed to combating homelessness in McHenry County are born.There’s no place like home.

It’s a phrase about 40 women and children will embody next month as they move from homeless shelters into permanent housing.

In September, Home of the Sparrow, a transitional housing service for low-income women and children, partnered with the Housing Opportunity Development Corp. to renovate and build affordable, low-rent homes. Three duplexes were built, one three-unit home was restored in Woodstock, and one two-unit home was renovated in Fox River Grove.

The $1.9 million project was paid for through the federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program, which is administered by the Illinois Housing Development Authority.

John Jones, executive director of Home of the Sparrow, said the housing helps meet the organization’s goal of moving women and children from homelessness to self-sufficiency.

The benefits of a permanent residence cannot be overstated. There’s a sense of security for families that likely have had little. Children who may have had to switch schools multiple times as they move around will have a stable educational environment to attend. Helping children achieve stability should lead to fewer people needing assistance from government programs and social service agencies.

It’s naive to think homelessness isn’t a problem in McHenry County: A point-in-time count in January done by the McHenry County PADS, part of the Pioneer Center for Human Services, found about 200 homeless individuals in the county. And there’s likely more.

It’s foolish, too, to assume that these women would no longer be homeless if they would “just get a job,” as homelessness a multifaceted problem. The National Alliance to End Homelessness has found homelessness for families usually is caused by an unforeseen housing or financial crisis, a death in the family, a medical emergency, or abuse. Sometimes, it’s a combination of several of those.

With the fragile economy of recent years coupled with rising costs, it’s understandable that many find themselves in unstable situations. Look at just housing: Home of the Sparrow says the average rent for a two-bedroom apartment in the county is $1,015 a month.

More than 100 homeless women and children annually reside in Home of the Sparrow’s shelters; according to the organization’s website, the average monthly income of families when they enter is $77. When they leave, it’s $1,450. You do the math.

We commend Home of the Sparrow and the Housing Opportunity Development Corp. for helping these women get on their feet, and we hope more partnerships committed to combating homelessness in McHenry County are born.

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