A new initiative from the Warming Room has provided housing to seven people who were previously experiencing chronic homelessness. The program is called Housing Options for Mutual Empowerment, or HOME, and it involves providing not only housing, but also a supportive environment and caring community to help residents as they make the transition into permanent housing. The seven residents live in a house together with support from staff and volunteers.
HOME launched when the Warming Room closed for the summer on July 1, 2017.
“The HOME program came about very quickly, and it was a response to the fact that the Warming Room was going to be closing and there was nowhere for people to go,” says Christian Harvey, director of Warming Room Community Ministries. Harvey says Warming Room staff knew they wouldn’t be able to house all the guests who were using the shelter when it closed at the end of June, but through a relationship they had with a landlord, they were able to secure space for seven of them.
Named Judy’s on Water, the house has been rented to the Warming Room by two landlords who wanted to make a difference in Peterborough’s housing shortage, Harvey says. “They’re not losing money, but they’re not making a huge amount of money either,” he says. “They’re really doing this to serve the community.”
Tammy Kuehne coordinates the program. She says getting into housing is not easy for people who have experienced trauma, or have mental health issues. “We wanted to create a program that would make it easy. We’re not going to run credit checks, we’re not going to make them meet someone they’ve never met and answer all kinds of questions or make them feel the pressure of being judged, because that’s what happens to them already every single day.” Kuehne helps to build a sense of community at HOME by organizing communal activities like regular shared meals and day trips.
Four and a half months after HOME started, the seven residents are still living there. “That seems like a short amount of time,” says Harvey, “but for a home that houses those who have been chronically homeless, to have them in the same place for that amount of time is actually a huge victory.”