This is a picture from one of the Veteran’s housed recently at HSH Homeless Ministry. As I looked at it I thought it says it all. This is our goal for everyone homeless that comes to us for help.
Please, listen below to KGGF’s interview with Director Chris Mitchell and Veteran Tony Bray as they discuss Home Sweet Home’s Homeless Ministry. Thank you KGGF for this interview as we inform the public about our history for the homeless and our new current Veterans housing.
In 2011, from a concept of helping the Community to address homelessness, “Home Sweet Home” and now “HSH Homeless Ministry, Inc “, has evolved from helping homeless men towards recovery, to accommodating men, women and children in four houses in Independence, Kansas. More than 670 homeless clients have been helped towards independent living over the years.
The mission of HSH Homeless Ministry, Inc – (HSH) – is to provide temporary housing for homeless men, women and children to help them attain an independent lifestyle through mentoring, guidance towards employment and professional assistance, if needed.
HSH is not an overnight accommodation, but focuses on rehabilitating one person at a time towards self -sustaining and independent living. Initially addressing homeless men, the focus has expanded to include homeless women with children, and current focus on homeless veterans.
Facilities (see pictures above)
One “Men’s Shelter House” with eight beds; Bright House and Henson House, primarily for women with children or single women; and McBride House for program graduates that need additional mentoring while attempting full independent living. All of the houses, except Henson House, were donated but required modifications/repairs/upgrading. This was funded through separate fundraisers and volunteer work.
A separate apartment in the McBride house is currently targeted to accommodate homeless veterans. The upgrade/repair costs are estimated to be $13,400.
Total number of homeless clients served and successfully graduated were 123 in 2019 and 70 in 2020. Our Board made a conscious decision not to have more than two homeless men at a time in the men’s shelter during the Covid pandemic. Overall, including HSH’s predecessor organization, more than 670 homeless people have been helped since 2011 to restructure their lives towards independent living.
Budget and Use of Funds
Our expenses for 2020 were right at $50,000. We have only one (part time) employee; the Director. The remainder are volunteer workers. On a “per client” basis the cost are between $700 -$1,200 per successfully graduated client. This – we believe – is a hugely efficient use of funds when compared with usually published costs of homelessness abatement statistics. More details are in the “About Us” section.
Community Involvement and Outreach
The larger Independence City / Montgomery County / South East Kansas areas recognized in the early 2000s that there is a homeless problem not only in big cities, but also in rural areas (see “About Us”). The local community has been hugely supportive of HSH’s effort to reduce homelessness not just on an overnight, but on a more permanent basis. The business community, Churches, Service Organizations, Community Chest, City and County offices, Momentum organization and Four County Mental Health have been major supporters of HSH’s efforts.
HSH Homeless Ministry, Inc is a Kansas Corporation with a 501c3 status (see “About Us” for details). It is governed by a Board of Directors (currently 13 Board members) all from the community and from different walks of life (see “About Us”). The Board meets monthly, has a President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer as officers. The Director responds to the Board. HSH has Board approved Bylaws, various committees for governance, conflict of interest etc. Its financial statements are audited annually.
All funding is through grants, individual and corporate contributions. Physical donations include clothes, furnishings, food and real estate /houses. The organization has no commercial income. Improvements of the facilities is accomplished through separate, targeted fundraisers. Newspaper publicity, TV interviews and presentations to the community as well as rummage and other publicity/ ”Hot Dogs in the Park” sales events are being used extensively.
HSH has had several homeless Veterans as clients over the years. We noticed, particularly most recently, that Veterans often require a more private setting for recovery. HSH has decided to address this issue by providing Veterans a specially dedicated facility. The initial apartment is for a single Veteran. This will be expanded, depending on needs. Primary planning attention is given to a safe operate heating/cooling system, an easily accessible modern and safe bathroom, and easy to operate and safe (all electric) heater and washer/dryer modules. Current cost estimate is $13,400. Several Community/Veteran organizations have indicated their support.
Homelessness, like poverty will never go completely away. HSH is dedicated to continue its mission to address homelessness at the local level by focusing on “one person at a time”. The success so far is very encouraging. Community support is steady as people realize a positive impact on City life. Employment is often a challenge, but many employers have made special allowance for recovering homeless people’s special needs. A major challenge is to find affordable low rent housing for our graduating clients. HSH is working with city and County officials and others to address this issue.