In the greater Charlotte area, women who are soon to become homeless have few options: find shelter with family or friends, apply for domestic violence/emergency shelters, or prepare to sleep in their cars or on the streets. Unfortunately, one of the most prevalent characteristics of the women and children that Catherine’s House serves is the lack of a positive and stable support system. Therefore, finding shelter with family/friends is either impossible or unadvisable. Shelters specializing in domestic violence typically allow women under immediate threat to stay for 30 days and limit their services only to those who have been victimized by an intimate partner (i.e., not other abusers). Often, this is not enough time for women to recover emotionally, and secure employment and stable housing. In fact, most or all options for food and shelter do not provide a structured plan or resources for women to wade out of the cycle of homelessness, meaning that they move from one temporary chaotic living situation to the next.
Catherine’s House fills a gap for women seeking temporary/transitional housing by providing a safe haven for women to rebuild their lives. Residents at Catherine’s House have the safety and security of food and shelter for four to six months, but also have an opportunity to chart their path to a more stable, healthy, and financially secure future.
Upon arrival at Catherine’s House, each resident begins meetings with her Case Manager and has an emotional wellness check with a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor within 48 hours of arrival. Our counselor makes recommendations to include individual counseling, group sessions and referrals to local providers when appropriate. Due to the short nature of a residents stay, there is often a solution focused and trauma informed approach that is person centered and designed to assist residents in identifying and modifying thoughts and behaviors that lead to distress and impairment. Counseling educates residents about trauma, how it effects daily living and how they can begin to reclaim their lives. Assessment allows our licensed clinician to recognize more severe mental health disorders that are correlated to homelessness. Cognitive and behavioral strategies are introduced to empower residents to learn to better manage their emotions and better understand the behaviors that have led to poor outcomes in their lives.
An individualized plan focused on securing employment, obtaining permanent housing, and improving her emotional health and decision-making skills is created. Weekly sessions with her Case Manager provide guidance and accountability for programmatic components, including job seeking assistance, financial literacy, budgeting and parent-support groups if needed.
To measure its success, Catherine’s House tracks self-sufficiency in 8 domains — Food, Transportation, Childcare, Employment, Income, Housing, Mental Health and Substance Abuse — using a 5 point scale, as follows:
1 = In Crisis
2 = Vulnerable
3 = Safe
4 = Stable
5 = Thriving
In each domain, the designation of “In Crisis” identifies an individual who is not able to exercise much, if any, control or choice in their situation; they are at the mercy of others for what they will eat and where they will lay their head for the night. At the other end of the scale, “Thriving” is used to describe an individual who can select from a wide range of options available to them.
Catherine’s House seeks to serve women and families whose housing situation can best be described as In Crisis (1) or Vulnerable (2). While we are not able to achieve it in every instance, our goal is that, upon discharge, residents will be Safe (3), Stable (4), or Thriving (5) in all eight measured domains.
In FY 2020 (July 1, 2019 – June 30, 2020), 51% of the women we served were safe, stable, or thriving in their housing upon exiting. This figure includes all of the women who participated in the program, including those who left early. For the women who successfully completed the 4-6 month program, 94% were safe, stable or thriving upon exiting.
In FY 2020, 66% of the women we served were employed at the time they exited; this includes those who completed the program and those who left early. Of those who utilized the savings account available to them at Catherine’s House to increase their financial literacy, average savings during their stay was $1,392.
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