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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Episode 62 (Epilogue): Homeless Motherhood

The topic of tonight’s show was motherhood and homelessness, in particular being homeless during pregnancy and with young children. Tonight co-hostess Laura was joined by special guest host Joe Hendricks, freelance journalist and host of Local Matters. The show opened with a discussion of some current issues for the city of Sarasota, and how we as a community are currently dealing with and understanding homelessness. Our first guest, Shelley Rence, Program Administrator for the Healthy Start Care Coordination. She talked to us about the rise in homelessness among pregnant women and mothers that she has observed in the Sarasota area, as well as the difficultly that homeless women may have getting access to aid because of barriers like being able to obtain legal identification, transportation, waiting lists, and limits on shelter stays.

Our next guest, Ali Kleber, who currently works as a Counselor at the Day Resource Center, Resurrection House , talked with us about a larger need to rely less on the criminal justice system in order to help the homeless members of our community. She shared with us a variety of examples of this model, including shelters such as Pinellas Safe Harbor, San Antonio's Haven for Hope, the Cincinnati Works program, and the books Why Don't They Just Get a Job?  and Make the Impossible Possible.

Finally we talked to Shawna Machado, winner of the Outstanding Graduate Award from University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee in 2012 and member of the Board of Directors for the Suncoast Partnership to End Homelessness, and Christian Axness, listeners to and friend of Maternally Yours. Each of these women shared with us their own experiences of homelessness, ranging from childhood to adulthood. Putting a voice to a subject which is often dehamunized in favor of stereotypical or negative perceptions of the homeless, these women emphasized the importance of community and support in helping homeless individuals.

Area Shelters and Key Resources:

The Salvation Army usually has two programs that accommodate homeless families (their definition of family is a mom & dad with children, mom with children, dad with children or even a grandmother with grandchildren): the FAITH program which is a year-long program in which parents are required to work full-time, attend life-skill classes, required savings and debt repayment, etc in exchange for a furnished apartment, utilities and food vouchers. There are a total of 12 apartments available in this program and usually has a waiting list. The other option is the Emergency Family Dorm - in which homeless families may stay up to 2 months while they look for work, housing, etc. (This is the program that is basically on a 90 day holding pattern as we are doing mold remediation in the shelter dorms.)

As best practices, Salvation Army says they try not to duplicate services of other agencies so they do not have programs specifically addressing pregnant women or new mothers. For those that do not qualify for either of the above programs, there may be special funding through their Emergency Financial Assistance programs (homeless prevention programs.) United Way 2-1-1 services can be called for initial eligibility requirements for various community programs.

The Salvation Army at the corner of 10th Street and Central Avenue Center of Hope serves 250,000 meals a year to the homeless and low-income folks living on the fringe of homelessness. The Center of Hope provides 600 to 700 free meals per day, serving three meals a day 365 days a year at an annual cost of $2 million, with only $250,000 of those costs covered by government funding. The remaining funds come from charitable donations, grants and community supporters. All Faiths Food Bank is a major provider of food supplies, and without them the feeding challenges would be far greater.

About the recently publicized mold issue, Salvation Army’s Glenda Leonard had this to say:
“You are correct our FAITH program will not be interrupted. As you know - living in Florida - mold is a reality. Our situation was basically improperly insulated A/C units that allowed moisture to collect in the ducts. It needs to be removed. The mold does not create a problem just being there. The fact that we will be disturbing the environment with the removal that can create a problem so we are taking the most conservative approach which is closing dorms while the work is done. We have closed the emergency family dorm as the first phase because it is the largest contained square footage space with the fewest number of clients. Once that area is cleaned we will move clients from another dorm to the family dorm while the remediation takes place and the process goes on - moving clients into different dorms as their area is clean, etc.."

Resurrection House :
Founded in 1989 and supported by a coalition of six local churches and generous Sarasota residents, Resurrection House is open from 8:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. and serves as a day haven for the homeless community. Free services include showers, laundry service, clothing, medical care, legal advice, assistance getting an I.D., storage lockers, bicycle repairs, access to discounted $8 monthly SCAT bus passes, mail and phone services, assistance making contact with family members, social service referrals, counseling, snacks and light meals and daytime shelter from the elements.

Resurrection House receives no government funding, which provides greater decision-making freedom. The funding comes from local churches and private donations in the form of money, clothing and supplies.

Despite an eight percent increase in clients served in 2011, the organization trimmed their annual operating costs from $340,271 in 2010 to $278,357 in 2011 — an 18 percent reduction.

Our Mother's House:
Low cost housing and free child care affords our single moms the opportunity to attend school. On site programs such as parenting, self-esteem and budgeting enhance the experience of living at Our Mother's House and assists moms to develop life skills for independence and self-sufficiency. House meetings and shared responsibilities afford each resident the opportunity to share in their own community. While living in a private apartment, the community setting teaches residents skills needed to live as a good neighbor and active citizen of a community.

Our Mother's house has partnered with Children's First and established an Early Head Start just for OMH children, and it is located on site. Early Head Start opened in March 2010; it is a licensed program with certified teachers who will ensure that in addition to a wonderfully warm and caring environment, children gain the skills and abilities they need to enter the public school system. The center is open Monday to Friday from 7:00 am to 6:00 pm. Mothers must provide diapers, wipes, food and drink, and a change of clothes daily.

Admission criteria:
· Single mother age 18 or over
· One child under 3 years of age
· Required attendance at program sponsored Life Skills Training Classes
· Expressed intention for further schooling and/or employment (have to be able to get there; gas cards always appreciated)
· Drug and alcohol free (all residents must agree to periodic & random drug testing)
· Non-threatening relationship
· (If an applicant has been in an abusive relationship, OMH needs to know in order to protect the personal safety of our residents and staff).

17 apartments; 1 vacancy now (expecting couple vacancies during winter; application on website)

Family Promise:
Family Promise is a "transitional shelter" for homeless FAMILIES (they must have minor children in their custody). They provide shelter, meals, basic needs, case management, and referrals and resources for families who've had independent housing and some job history and a crisis has displaced them from a home. They can help for 30 to 90 days. During this time adults in the program are required to work full time (if not working, first goal is to find full time work and assist in their search), and then submit 50% to 90% of EACH paycheck while with us into a SAVINGS - so they will then have enough to move into their own place after their allotted time.

Family Promise is unique because:
1. They keep families together --- no separating due to age or gender. They can house single dad's with kids (when most shelters won't).
2. They don't have a traditional "shelter building” but have local congregations (of different faiths) that partner with them to HOUSE families on a weekly rotation. Each HOST congregation (they currently have 10) take all the families in (they typically serve 3 families at a time) and set each up their own room AT their church building (they have transportable fold up beds that go site to site)- that congregation has a team of volunteers that make the meals for that week and STAY with the families AT the church in the evenings (and overnight). In the morning, families leave for school, work , or they can utilize the Family Promise Day Center if looking for work or it's their day off. The Day Center is located next door to their office, and has computers with Internet, refrigerators, microwave, phone, tv, etc --- and is available to them each day (except Saturdays when they host church allows them to come and go from their facility).

They serve between 10 and 15 families per year and have an 85% success rate of getting families BACK into their OWN home again.

SOLVE Maternity Homes:
Since 1976 SOLVE Maternity Homes has been helping women of all ages and their families with unplanned pregnancies. SOLVE has assisted over 900 women and their unborn children by providing housing for them. SOLVE operates two maternity homes in Bradenton, Florida and one in Englewood, Florida.

SOLVE Maternity Homes provides a structured program for young women and teenagers by providing housing, education, counseling, health care resources, childbirth and parenting classes, adoption assistance, and spiritual support for the duration of their pregnancies and a period of time afterbirth. Each home has a live-in house manager who oversees the day to day operation including taking residents to appointments, group activities and to the grocery store. With the help of their case manager, residents make a concrete and practical plan for their future.

941-748-0094 or email us at There is never a charge for services.

Second Chance Last Opportunity:
Second Chance-Last Opportunity (SCLO) is a community-based 501(c)(3) grassroots organization that has been offering life management skills classes to at-risk teens and their low income and/or homeless families since 1995. Clients often face multiple health, social and economic challenges, and therefore our approach is holistic as well as empowering. Along with the strategies and skills for success gained from SCLO classes, they offer counseling, health education, youth programs, food distributions, shelter referrals, all with a dose of tough love, if appropriate. Most importantly, they give back the responsibility for turning their lives around to the individuals they serve.
Programs are aimed at two segments of the ‘invisible’ population - young people from disadvantaged backgrounds and people who have multiple social and economic problems who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.

SPARCC (Safe Place and Rape Crisis Center):
Safe Place and Rape Crisis Center, Inc. (SPARCC) was formed as a non-profit agency in 1979. SPARCC is the only state-certified center for domestic violence and sexual assault services for Sarasota and DeSoto Counties. All of SPARCC’s services are free and confidential. In addition to serving victims, SPARCC is actively engaged in promoting social change through community awareness and education, in an effort to prevent such violence in the future. SPARCC serves its clients through an Outreach Center in downtown Sarasota, satellite offices in south Sarasota and DeSoto Counties, a shelter operating 24 hours a day/365 days a year and at the local courthouses.

Mothers must be in imminent danger to seek shelter. In October, SPARCC housed more women than ever before (they have 27 beds and 5 cribs; in October they had 38-39 staying with them).

From one SPARCC employee: “The sad reality is that many women and children become homeless due to domestic violence. For some time now our emergency shelter has been full of families escaping violence. Though we never like to turn people away, we have only four families room and a high demand. Often we have to double up families or use the library or conference rooms as make shift bed rooms.
Our goal is to be a safe place for those escaping current domestic violence. We have a 24 hour hotline staffed with advocates that can assist survivors with crisis counseling, information and referrals, and safety planning.
Our services are free and confidential. Our hotline is 941-365-1976.”

As an added note on midwifery and homelessness, area midwife Christina Holmes had this to say: “Midwives who are licensed in Florida, don't attend births in homeless camps. The birth centers have & do work with homeless women and offer them a safe place to have a baby and connect them with other services within the community.”

Other Resources:
ALPHA (727)822-8190
701 5th Ave North St Petersburg, FL 33701 
Shelter for homeless pregnant women and teens

Advocates for Shelter Action Policy (ASAP) (727)823-5665
423 11th Ave South St Petersburg, FL 33701 
Emergency shelter for families women and children

Alpha Center (850)479-4391
6004 Pernella Rd Pensacola, FL 32504 
Provides services for indigent pregnant women

Amen Outreach Ministry, Shelter for Women & Children 813 374-2196
PO Box 4472 Tampa , FL 33677 
We provide emergency housing and support for up to 24 women and children in Hillsborough Cunty. We are one of the only homeless shelter for women and children who are not victims of domestic violence in the county. In addition to providing shelter, housing information and referrals, assistance in obtaining transitional/permanent housing, job search. Residents are permitted to stay at the shelter for 60 days or more if the resident is actively working towards their self-sufficiency. 

American Red Cross (941)379-9300
2001 Cantu Court Sarasota, FL 34230 
Clothing food shelter provided

Caritas of St Martha's (941) 366-5620
140 Adelia St Sarasota, FL 34236 
food/ clothing/ rent assistance provided
Sarasota Shelters 

Community Care and Share (941)483-5586
68 Sandstone Circle Venice, FL 34293 
food/vouchers/rent etc help

Family Renew Community 386-252-0711
810 Ridgewood Ave. Holly Hill, FL 32117 
Ft Myers Rescue Mission (239)334-7365
3985 Dr MLK Jr Blvd Ft Myers, FL 33916 
Emergency Shelter/Clothing/Meals on site and street

Good Samaritan Ministries (941)365-2052
2809 N Tamiani Trail Sarasota, FL 34237 
free clothing store

Good Samaritans (941)639-3335
304 Nesbit Street Punta Gorda, FL 33950 
Food/Financial Assistance Provided

HEP 727-442-9041 ex
1120 N. Betty Lane Clearwater , FL 33755 
HEP (Homeless Emergency Project Inc) Provides Homeless and very low-income Individuals and families with housing,food, clothing and support services necessary to obtain self-sufficiency and improved quality of life

Homeless Network (813)989-2508
8749 Temple Terrace Highway Tampa, FL 33637 
Volunteers help individuals obtain basic food needs/clothing/housing/and jobs

Lee County Department of Human&Housing Services (941)625-9784
21505 Augusta Avenue Port Charlotte, FL 33952 

Metropolitan Ministries (813)209-1081
2002 N Florida Ave Tampa, FL 33602 
Emergency and long term shelter for homeless families married or unmarried with children

North Port Social Services (941)486-2660
7052 Glenallen Blvd North Port, FL 34287 
Food bus fare gas vouchers provided

Our Daily Bread (941)746-4088
1424 14th St W Bradenston, FL 34205 
Provides clothing meals

Resurrection House (941)366-3559
507 Kumquat Court Sarasota, FL 34237 
Clothing food vouchers Health clinic referral service

Salvation Army (941)748-5110
1204 14th Street West Bradenton, FL 34205 
Emergency shelter for homeless men women and children. Food clothing social services provided

Salvation Army Shelter (941)364-8854
1424 4th St Sarasota, FL 34236 
Emergency Shelter /food/ vouchers/ and other assistance provided.

Salvation Army Venice Corps (941)484-6227
1051 Albee Farm Rd Venice, FL 34292 
Food clothing rent and utility service provided

St Vincent De Paul (941)953-5477
512 S Orange Avenue Sarasota, FL 34236 
Clothing household goods food pantry meals provided

St. Maximillian Kolbe Catholic Church Outreach (941)743-6877
1441 Spear Street Port Charlotte, FL 33948 
Food/Rent/Utility assistance

Women Set Free Ministry (813)758-1190
1825 30th AVenue West Bradenton, FL 34205

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