Host Home Program for Homeless Youth

In June 2017, key stakeholders in Baltimore assembled to kick off the city’s first Host Home Program for homeless youth, particularly those who identify as LGBTQ. The program identifies, screens, and trains community members who volunteer to host youth aged 18-24 who are in need of immediate housing.

You can help us fight youth homelessness by being one of our Hosts for young adults. Hosts receive a stipend and ongoing support from the Host Home Coordinator during their time in the program. If interested in participating in our upcoming training or just want to learn more about Host Homes, please contact Renee Stainrod at:

St. Ambrose Housing Aid Center
321 East 25th Street
Baltimore , MD 21218
410-366-8550 x233
860-532-8835 (Cell)
410-366-8795 fax
Renees@stambros.org

Our 2-part monthly Host training schedule is as followed:

  • December 15th 5:30-7:30pm & December 16th 9-5pm
  • January 12th 5:30-7:30pm & January 13th 9-5pm

 Please RSVP by December 8th 2017

St. Ambrose’s Host Home Coordinator will collaborate with PSY, Star Track, and YES! to identify and appropriately connect young people in need out housing with hosts. Below is more information about the partnering organizations that are each contributing their unique strengths and knowledge to reduce youth homelessness:

Point Source Youth is working to implement research and scale the, Family and Kinship Strengthening, Short-Term Host Homes, and Rapid Rehousing programs that will help in the prevention of youth homelessness in Baltimore.

St. Ambrose Housing Aid Center has a long history of connecting homeowners to interested renters who may not have the capital or credit to thrive in Baltimore’s rental market. They are excited to expand to short-term host homes for youth and will recruit 15 hosts in 2017.

Youth Empowered Society focuses on serving homeless youth while allying with them to create the change that is needed. YES! will be offering rapid re-housing units with an emphasis on case management and connection to employment.

Star Track (Special Teens At Risk–Together Reaching Access, Care, and Knowledge) is launching family and individual therapy designed for young adults who are homelessness or unstably housed. Program therapists are youth-centered and use a justice framework.

 

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Homesharing gets Published!

Our Homesharing program is featured nationally in NeighborWorks America’s new book, “NeighborWorks Works: Practical Solutions from America’s Community Development Network.”NeighborWorks Works is a collaboration book that showcases the NeighborWorks network’s innovative solutions in affordable housing and community development.

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Homesharing, which began matching homeowners with tenants  in Baltimore City in 1988, is recognized in the book as a unique and impactful solution to the challenge of creating affordable housing. Through a new program expansion, “Parent-Child Homesharing,” supported by the William J. and Dorothy K. O’Neill Foundation, Homesharing is now growing into a housing solution for families too!

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St. Ambrose is featured alongside 2 other Baltimore organizations and countless more from across the U.S. Each page tells the unique story of an innovative solution that is helping to strengthen and empower our communities.  The book illustrates the incredible and far reaching impact that community development has on the communities where we live and grow.

With a donation of $25 or more to the Homesharing program, we will send you a copy of the NeighborWorks Book, complimentary! On the donation page there is a question where you can indicate that you would like a copy of the NeighborWorks Book.

Go ahead- Donate now.

Summer Learning at St. Ambrose

When summer rolls around, many college kids are eager to be free of commitments and head to the beach. These students, however, wanted to do something more meaningful with their time. Here are four students who are spending their summer interning with St. Ambrose.

Tasayeh Nickens,

Housing Development Intern

Tasayeh goes door-to-door in Belair-Edison, conducting surveys and collecting valuable opinions and impressions from community members about Belair-Edison.

Tasayeh heard about St. Ambrose from a friend who interned here last summer. “She was able to connect me with  Jill, who found me a position.”

DSC_5719She knew St. Ambrose would be the perfect fit. “I did my research about St. Ambrose and found what they really did interesting and very positive things for the community. I really like what they value; rehabbing homes, that’s something I’m really interested in. It really helps people who aren’t as able to purchase homes.”

Her favorite part about her internship is “being able to interact with the people in the community and hearing what they have to say about what’s going on in the city.”

During the school year, Tasayeh attends University of Alabama, where she studies social work. “I plan on becoming a licensed, clinical social worker, and I plan on working at a hospital doing medical social work. I also want to get my masters degree in social work and public health.”

Tasayeh feels that her experience at St. Ambrose is giving her a taste of the social work field “because they’re advocating for the people and the community.”

DSC_5719 (2)Courtney Watkins,

Law Clerk

Courtney works in the Legal Services Department and drafts deeds, conducts crucial legal research, and connects clients to attorneys.

Courtney plans to become a lawyer through her studies at University of Maryland  Francis King Carey School of Law. Because of her interest in housing law, a career development coach directed her to St. Ambrose. I don’t think I could have gotten the same experience elsewhere.”

“I really like that in public interest you have more hands-on work than say, at a big firm where you’re just doing legal research. I really like the experience that I get to be doing the work myself rather than just whispering in an attorney’s ear something that I found online.”

She’s trying to figure out what kind of lawyer she wants to be. “There are still so many avenues I want to explore. That’s why I’m really excited I’ve gotten to try out family law this summer.”

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Karly Horn,
Homesharing Intern

Karly personally follows up with each Homesharing client to ensure their satisfaction and is helping the department go paperless.

She recently spoke with someone who was first matched with their homesharer nearly 15 years ago. They now consider their homesharer “part of the family.” Karly’s favorite part about her work with St. Ambrose is “hearing what the program I’m part of is doing for people.”

At University of Richmond, Karly is majoring in leadership studies and minoring in history. An alumna suggested she intern at St. Ambrose, thinking it would provide her with the perfect experience. Karly structured her own interdisciplinary program for the summer, incorporating 4 internships. “I wanted to see how nonprofits are structured.”

Karly is still trying to determine her career path. “I want to help people, I just don’t know in what capacity yet.”

Maegan JamesSAM_0131

Resource Development Intern

Maegan collects stories from clients and staff alike to share for St. Ambrose’s upcoming 50th anniversary.

She connected to St. Ambrose through her summer fellowship, Walter Sondheim Jr. Maryland Nonprofit Leadership Program. “I grew up in Baltimore and have seen firsthand how housing issues can affect members of our community. St. Ambrose drew me in because they do so much to provide homes for people, making our city stronger as a whole.”

“I love that every day I hear firsthand stories from clients whose lives have been changed by the amazing people at St. Ambrose.”

Maegan hopes to serve in the Peace Corps after graduation. She knows that she wants to dedicate her life to public service, but is unsure what direction it will take her. “I know that whatever I do, I’ll always look back at this summer and think about the valuable skills I learned here at St. Ambrose.”

 

Homesharing Spotlight: Ed and Ousmane

Ed and Ousmane are Home sharers in the Mayfield neighborhood, a cozy community of detached homes nestled between Lake Montebello, Herring Run and Clifton Parks. Ed, who’s been sharing his home through St. Ambrose since 2011, is a longtime advocate of shared housing.  For Ed, it’s a healthy stimulator to live in community with others, and some of what it takes to be a good roommate is a mindset of compatibility and a willingness to communicate openly.

Ousmane, who joined our community of Home sharers in February 2016 is blind, and was referred to St. Ambrose through a job readiness training program. When he graduated from his job training program, he was able to swiftly transition to Homesharing, perfectly matching with Ed.

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“One Step at a Time”

From his new home, Ousmane waits at the corner to catch the bus to his work south of downtown Baltimore. On his return trip, he takes the bus to one block north of his home in order to cross at the controlled cross walk. When he reaches the cross walk, he listens for the cycle of traffic to stop to know when to cross the street. He knows the timing of the lights by memory, and always waits for a complete cycle to pass through before he ventures across the street, white walking stick leading the way.

Sometimes a neighbor will offer him guidance to walk across the way, and Ousmane always graciously accepts, “it’s part of their spirituality” to offer assistance, but each day for Ousmane, crossing the street is another opportunity to practice and learn. Another walk across the street is another step towards the independent lifestyle he enjoyed before he lost his sight four years ago.

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Ousmane, who is originally from Senegal, moved to the US in 1996. When he went blind in 2012, he had a lot to learn on his path to living independently again. For Ousmane, Homesharing is an experience in the “School of Life” and a way to live self-sufficiently, while in community with others. “It’s a daily self-assignment and a challenge to make sure I’m acting correctly and on the same page with others… I can always improve myself and my communication.” Ousmane wakes up around 5 am each morning to get ready for work. He moves silently about the house, taking great care with every step. Ed describes Ousmane’s movement as “ninja-like,” but for Ousmane, a heightened sense of hearing makes him very mindful of moving quietly at an early hour.

Adaptations- making the house a home for Ousmane

When Ousmane first moved in he carried around raised bump locator stickers and received assistance to mark buttons and switches around the house for guidance. There’s a dot to identify the start button on the laundry machine and three dots on the microwave to identify the number 3, the start, and the clear button. Another practical adaptation is a paper bag to place his mail. Ousmane has an app on his phone that he uses to scan and read text when he shops for food, reads mail, or checks paper money.

It didn’t take much to make Ousmane feel comfortable in his new home. One final adaptation that’s in the works-“Well, we’ll need to expand the garden,” Ed mentions. Ousmane is a vegetarian and the backyard garden is certainly a point of community pride and unity at the shared Mayfield home.

What is the best part about Homesharing?

For Ousmane, he finds that he is at peace in his new home,”living in sync with good people inspires me to be my best self.”

For Ed, Homesharing stretches his comparability and comfort zone, and “it’s a way to act locally and build bridges in the community.”

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

Interested in Homesharing? Call 410-366-6180.

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A front porch garden that appeals to all the senses

Karen Heyward-West named one of Maryland’s Top 100 women

Karen Heyward-West, Director of Homesharing, was recently recognized by the Daily Record as one of Maryland’s Top 100 Women for 2016. The highly accomplished list of honorees includes leaders across sectors and communities. St. Ambrose gives a warm congratulations to all of this year’s nominees. Below is an interview with our own award recipient, Karen Heyward-West.

 

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Karen at the Awards Reception, April 18, 2016, Meyerhoff Symphony Hall
One of the categories for an honoree is being recognized for mentorship. What is your advice to young women who are interested in being leaders in the the non-profit or human services field? 

 The first thing I always say is you have to check in with yourself often to make sure it’s still your passion. Whether you’re advocating for the environment, for young people, or for families, you always have to ask yourself: Are you passionate about what you’re doing?

As one of Maryland’s top 100 women, you’re in good company! On the list of fellow nominees, who is someone you really respect and why? 

There are so many! On the present list, I’d have to say my sorority sister Sharonne Bonardi, Deputy Comptroller of the state of Maryland. Shes’ the first African American to hold the position and her story about how she moved up the ranks in the Department is really inspiring. Working in such a male dominated field and being the first African American in her position, she faced so many challenges, but she really committed to her job, not for herself, but for the women who came after her. As a public servant it’s not about you, and I really admire her commitment to being a leader for women in her field.

Of previous nominees, I would say Margaret Williams, of The Maryland Family Network. She’s been out there for more than 30 years fighting the fight to support young families, and she’s grown the network from just a few centers to many.
In your opinion, what makes Homesharing such a great program for the community?
I think because it’s unique and obtainable. There are not several hoops to jump through or waiting lists to get on- there’s a beginning, middle, and end all in the near future. We’ve placed people in a week, we’ve place people in 3 days. It’s an obtainable solution to the lack of affordable housing. It’s real.
What is the best part about being the Director of Homesharing?
The best part of this position is being a part of change. This position allows me to effect change in people’s lives and spread the good news about the outcomes of the program. Homesharing really is the best kept secret, but I get to help share what Homesharing can do for an individual and for a community.

My Sister From Another Mother

By: Annette Leahy-Maggitti, Homesharing Housing Counselor

Torrie came to the St. Ambrose Homesharing program in 1989 when her daughter was four years old.  We were not able to find her a perfect match at the time, but Torrie found a home to rent in northeast Baltimore. A few years later she came back to Homesharing looking for someone to share her home and help her maintain her household. She needed someone available to be home for her daughter after school. Her daughter was then 11 years old.

Mildred, who had hit on hard times, reluctantly came to St. Ambrose. She had a heart attack and had to leave her factory job.  Her unemployment benefits were running out and she did not want her 18 and 20 year-old sons to have to take care of her.  When I interviewed her, it was clear that she was skeptical that such an arrangement could be successful. “I was a nervous wreck thinking about sharing a home with a stranger, but Torrie’s openness made me relax a bit!”

Smiles Mildred and Torrie

Both Mildred and Torrie agreed that the ‘match meeting,’ when a homesharing counselor works out an agreement with both parties, was most helpful and created the necessary boundaries to make a successful arrangement. No money was exchanged.  It was strictly a barter situation.

Mildred was able to complete a state run program that retrained her for employment and helped her get back on her feet, and she also became a surrogate grandmother to Torrie’s daughter and a close companion. Torrie said, “It was truly life changing for me. Mildred has become my best friend, my confidant. I needed someone I could trust to give me peace of mind when I had to leave my child.  Mildred was the ‘gap childcare’ I needed to be able to work full time.  I don’t know how a mom works regular hours without help.  We respected each other’s time and space. I just love her!”

Now Mildred has her own apartment but Torrie and Mildred continue to share many holidays and birthdays with eachother’s families.  “Mildred is my sister from another mother,” said Torrie, hugging her.

Share a Home, Save for a Home

Our Homesharing department has been matching homeowners and home seekers for 27 years in the Baltimore area, but only recently have we been making a strong effort to encourage this affordable housing solution for single parents. We contacted Brandy, a homesharing mom who lives in Northeast Baltimore to tell us a little bit about her homesharing experience.parent child homesharing logo final

How old is your daughter?   4 years old

Length of time home sharing: 6 months

Length of time it took to find a match: less than a week

What have you gained from Homesharing? From this home sharing experience I have gained the opportunity to cut back on my living expenses so that I can financially prepare to purchase a home.

Do you see Home sharing as a long term or temporary housing solution?  I am utilizing the home sharing program because I have a desire to purchase a home within this year.

What is something you’ve learned from your Home Provider? What is something you respect about your Home Provider?    I respect the fact that my Home Provider was willing to open her home to my daughter & me. While being in a home were my Home Provider is a home owner I have been able to witness the importance of keeping and maintaining a home. I always knew that it was a lot of responsibility that went into being a home owner, but this experience has given me an opportunity to see firsthand.

What qualities do you think make a good roommate? A good roommate is one that is very understanding, a good communicator, clean, and friendly.

What do you like best about your house? When I was in the process of searching for a home provider I was very adamant about staying in the same community. I didn’t want to pull my daughter out of the community and environment she was familiar with. The neighborhood is in a central location and in a quiet community surrounded by homeowners.

Is there anything else you’d like to share? I am very grateful for this experience because it is truly a humbling experience. Home sharing is great for any individual that is trying to find some stability and it will only work if you are willing to communicate and be patient. I would recommend home sharing to others. All home sharing experiences may vary.

Complete this sentence: Home is…. Truly a place where you are comfortable and you can relax and feel safe. ‘Home is where the heart is…’

Do you know a single parent or a homeowner who would be willing to open up their heart or their home? Contact the Homesharing department at St. Ambrose 410-366-6180 or via email at homesharing@stambros.org