MOORESVILLE – Within weeks of its December 2017 opening, Hope of Mooresville (HOMe) was at maximum capacity.
HOMe is the only family care residence of its kind in Mooresville, and the need for its housing, food and support services for homeless women and children quickly became apparent.
“We were not surprised at how quickly we filled up at the HOMe house,” said HOMe co-chair Julie Wooldridge in an email. “There was a lot of research done in the years before we purchased or remodeled the house. We were given the numbers of homeless students in the (Mooresville Graded School District) and (Iredell-Statesville) schools.”
According to a news release, guests of HOMe are referred to the organization by local school systems, including Mooresville Graded School District (MGSD), and nonprofits.
“We at MGSD are extremely grateful to have HOMe in our community,” said MGSD social worker Traci Willis in the release. “Prior to them opening, any families with students who had an urgent housing need for emergency shelter were referred to shelters in Statesville and beyond, taking them further from the support of their community.”
HOMe celebrated its first “graduated” guest last month – a mother of three children under the age of 10.
According to the release, the mother – who was not identified – entered the program after living in her car and being separated from her children. She was able to move into HOMe and be reunited with her children.
During her three-month stay, the mother was able to get career advice, a donated car and dental care for her and her children. She soon got a full-time job paying above minimum wage and was able to move into stable housing with her kids.
In order to enter the program, all guests must agree to follow certain rules and guidelines.
Wooldridge said some of those rules include adhering to a curfew, not using drugs or alcohol on the property and helping clean communal spaces.
Wooldridge said HOMe has continued to stay pretty full since it opened, but she said they do have an occasional gap because of the program’s “extensive vetting process.”
“Not all potential guests are willing to commit to our program,” Wooldridge said.
If they are accepted, guests are mentored on things like finances, medical needs and child care issues.
“Most families are facing multiple dilemmas and are in a situation where they need to enter into supportive housing like ours,” said Program Coordinator Keona Foye in the release. “Having a team to be a support system for our guests is something that some have never had. This gives our guests the ability to know that they are not alone and have other people who care for them.”
Wooldridge said most guests stay for approximately six months but, as with the case of the mother of three, that time period is not set in stone.
“It is bittersweet to see our guest move on because we grow to love the families,” Wooldridge said. “We are so proud and happy to see them grow and develop their independence. This shows that our program is (in) need and works.”