The past nine months we have heard the words frequently: home quarantine, home office, home schooling. Now imagine not having a home at all, especially during a pandemic.
Thankfully 350 women, men, and children who previously experienced homelessness have a safe place to live because they found HABcore. During the pandemic, the permanent, supportive housing offered by HABcore is truly a blessing, and in many instances the springboard to a successful life.
As the pandemic wears on, we recognize the drastic increase in mental health needs for all ages. Losing jobs, struggling with childcare and home-instruction … All take their toll and add stress to family life.
Through HABcore’s Strengthening Families component, HABcore provides intensive services using the whole family approach.
Studies show that children experiencing homelessness are far more likely to require special ed programs, repeat grades and attempt suicide. Understanding this, we teach behavioral strategies to help improve relationships, children’s school performance, and encourage tutoring. We teach families healthy lifestyles and assist with budgeting to increase savings and reduce debt.
A growing number of Monmouth and Ocean county residents are unable to pay rents or mortgages because of COVID-19 related job loss. Our new supported employment aspect of the program helps with career assessments and engaging employers. One of our goals is to break the barriers to employment and provide childcare, scholarships and transportation to get more of our families back to work and on the road to independence.
HABcore has extensive experience in providing permanent, supportive housing to low-income individuals and families. Central to our philosophy is the recognition that we must help our clients address the root causes of their poverty. As our population has evolved to one where many are people with disabilities, we have expanded support services to accommodate their needs and to foster self-sufficiency.
The primary goal of our programs is to furnish our residents with the tools to reach their highest level of independence.
HABcore’s mission is to offer a permanent address to call home for those who are experiencing homelessness. All HABcore households have either a physical, emotional, or behavioral special need. With the security and stability of a place to live comes the opportunity to rebuild lives.
With five full-time case managers, HABcore provides support to residents of all ages. This includes linkages and service provision in areas such as behavioral health, substance abuse, budgeting for financial security, job training career education. Parenting skills are taught in conjunction with school systems as more parents are providing in-home instruction.
There are countless examples of HABcore Independence Pathways Residents who seize the opportunities and invest their time and energy to achieve their goals. Here is a sampling:
Anna is a mom of three grade-school children, one of whom has special needs. After a series of unfortunate events, Anna was facing an urgent housing crisis. She had separated from her significant other, and her work hours were reduced to part-time. Anna could not make ends meet and was forced to find temporary housing and safety for her family at a homeless shelter.
In 2019, Anna entered HABcore’s Rapid Re-Housing Program as a means of quickly reconnecting to permanent housing. The program provides temporary rental assistance to families for up to two years with a design on promoting independence. Anna received the support services and mentorship needed to get back on her feet.
Anna is now working two jobs – running a phlebotomy and COVID-19 testing lab/clinic and working in a hospital Emergency Room. She is also attending school with the hopes of becoming a nurse.
While no longer needing the financial assistance of the Rapid Re-Housing Program, Anna continues to receive supportive services through HABcore’s Strengthening Families Program focused on financial literacy, work retention, and other supported employment options. Her next goal is to become a first-time homebuyer. Her children are thriving and have improved their school performance.
Geoff, Cindy and their son, Scott will be celebrating six years in HABcore’s Supportive Housing Program. Before HABcore, the family moved between local motels and the couple was in constant fear of losing custody of their infant son.
Since moving into their own apartment and receiving regular support services from their social worker, as the threat of family separation is no longer evident. Geoff, who is developmentally disabled and suffers from a chronic health condition, has been working at his full-time job at Best Market for six years. He also coaches softball and is a volunteer firefighter. Cindy, who has a developmental disability, spends her time caring for her elderly mother. Scott is attending class as a first grade student this year, which is no small achievement as his speech was significantly delayed. However, the speech therapy he received through the Early Intervention program was so successful that he no longer has signs of any delay.
For two years Steven and his girlfriend were homeless. They had fallen on hard times and turned to drugs for relief. Ten months ago, she died by suicide, and Steven considered suicide himself.
For three months after the tragic loss of his girlfriend, Steven, a veteran, went to a rehab/mental health facility. Still experiencing homelessness, he was given an opportunity to interview with HABcore.
Steven explains: “HABcore gave me this great gift of an apartment. And it has been slow moving in completely because I still battle with PTSD and depression. But the wonderful people with HABcore gave me a place to start healing. It is still a struggle, but I wouldn’t have lasted long on the streets without the help of HABcore… They gave me what I needed to get my kids and granddaughter back in my life. Today I am clean and sober and thriving because HABcore gave me a chance.”
HABcore will continue to expand to meet the demand of those in need during the pandemic and in the years of recovery. Recently four one-bedroom apartments were added in an expansion of a HABcore-owned residence on River Street, Red Bank. Other projects are on the horizon. HABcore will continue to serve those experiencing homelessness and addressing their needs.
For more information or to support HABcore, contact 732-544-1975, habcore.org.
HABcore Board Member and Board Secretary
The Two River Times
November 12, 2020