The resilience of our guests constantly amazes me as they strive to end their homelessness. The stars are really the keiki, who greet our staff with smiles, and call out to them in the hallway: “Hi aunty!” and “Hi uncle!"
Many people think of mentally ill adults when they think of homelessness, but the majority of those homeless are families with children under the age of 18. In fact, about half of all homeless keiki are 5 years-old and younger. While you may not see them on the streets, they grace the halls of our shelter all the time. The infants, sleeping in cribs in our guest rooms, are living proof.
The families that we serve lose housing for many reasons. A layoff, an injury/illness that results in large medical bills, an unexpected family death, or just a raise in rent leave families living on the streets or in their cars, struggling to put their lives back together. This disruption to life's routine affects children in many ways. Lack of a stable home means daily living is challenging. Waking up for school, having a shower, preparing a meal, completing homework or even getting a good night’s sleep are all uncertainties. These disrupted activities may mean missed opportunities to develop self-discipline and a healthy lifestyle. When the basics are absent, dreaming about the future is curtailed.
From the day a family arrives at our doors to months after their stay, IHS works to restore structure and stability to family life. We move families into housing as quickly as possible and make every effort to equip them with skills, surround them with support and create opportunities that prevent them from experiencing homelessness again. IHS customizes service planning in order to meet a family’s goals for a brighter future. We also foster hope and confidence for each family member, both children and adults, and offer opportunities to learn competencies that lead to financial stability, employment, healthcare, healthy child development, and so much more. The goal is to create a strong foundation upon which a family unit can be rebuilt.
Finally, our Children’s Program is a key to ending the cycle of homelessness, because a homeless child is three times more likely to experience homelessness as an adult. By providing an environment that is safe, nurturing, and comfortable, we are able to help children break that cycle by staying healthy, gaining confidence, developing a strong work ethic and exploring the world around them for future success. We work alongside parents to understand how to best nurture their children with gentle guidance and structure, instilling values that lead to engaged citizenship in our community.
I want to thank you, our IHS ohana, for your partnership in our work to address the impacts of family homelessness in our community.
Mahalo for continuing to support the work that we do. You can support our family programs today to ensure that kids get the support, resources, care, guidance and skills to overcome their circumstances. You can help this holiday season by making your most generous gift here.