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Stories & Articles

There are many nuances to our work, the clients we serve, and the struggles they face. When you think of “the homeless,” it may be hard for you to get beyond the man you see standing on the corner everyday on your way home from work. You know the one; he holds a filthy cardboard sign that says “Just got evicted” or “ Lost my job.”

We hope the stories that appear here will help you see the world of our clients through a different lens. We think they deserve a closer look.

 

 

COMPASS Gives Our Clients a “Voice”

This essay appeared on the Op-Ed Page of the Houston Chronicle on November 13, 2014.

 

 

ACTUALLY, YOU CAN GO HOME AGAIN

Experience teaches us that the many truisms we’ve heard all of our lives are, in fact, true. Honesty is the best policy, and no, you can’t judge a book by its cover. Haste makes waste. And we would probably all agree that truth really is much stranger than fiction. Yet, I take issue with the one about not being able to go home again. Thomas Wolfe to the contrary, COMPASS knows that going home again is possible. For someone who bounces around between the streets and homeless shelters, “home” may need to be reimagined, but it is possible, after all, to get there.

Earlier this year COMPASS joined an ambitious city-wide initiative to end homelessness. By providing “housing navigation”—a unique form of case management—to some of Houston’s most vulnerable homeless men and women, we’ve made a difference. A man with a tracheotomy, who was living under a freeway, now has his own place. A young woman with bipolar disorder, who had been homeless since age 16, moved from a shelter to her very own apartment. They’re home now.

These clients, who could not find their own way out of the maze of homelessness, moved into specialized housing, where they have ongoing support. Qualifying for, finding, and moving into an apartment is next to impossible if you don’t read very well, you’re sick, and you sleep on concrete. They benefitted from COMPASS’s patient, steady, hands-on guidance. In recent months, COMPASS has helped over 20 of these men and women move into apartments. They all needed help to get home.

Housing navigation is time consuming, labor intensive—possibly even a labor of love—and it is expensive. There is a long waiting list of chronically homeless individuals who are eligible for supportive housing. We know that many more will come our way, with high hopes of finally getting home.

Is it worth it?

Not too long ago, it was moving day for one of our clients. I watched our navigators head toward the car with bags full of thoughtfully chosen, color-coordinated bedding and towels, along with kitchen and cleaning supplies. When they returned for a second load of odds and ends, a flash of something got my attention as it sailed by—an ironing board. Really? Yes, it seems this elderly homeless man asked if we could get him an ironing board. He wanted to wear ironed shirts in his new place. On moving day he didn’t know that we would later buy him an iron, too.

Home is where the heart is. A man’s house is his castle. And home is where we iron our shirts.

COMPASS relies on individual gifts, and I hope you will consider making a gift this Christmas. The need is great, and the results are nothing short of, well—going home again.

Surely, it’s worth it.

Cynthia Brannon
Executive Director
December 2016

 

 

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Houston COMPASS, Inc.
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Houston, TX 77002

Telephone: 713-229-8319
FAX: 713-229-8560