At the Women’s Housing Coalition, we create stability for families and individuals with housing and other resources. There are 2,294 homeless citizens in Baltimore city alone. One of the keys to preventing homelessness is to have a clear understanding of who is at risk of homelessness and who experiences homelessness.
In the Homelessness in America series published by the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, they summarize the most relevant data and research regarding different subpopulations to help inform the work we must do, together, across the federal government, states, and local communities, to end homelessness once and for all.
The scale of family homelessness
Families with children experiencing homelessness represent one-third of all people experiencing homelessness on a given night – and 59% of people experiencing homelessness in families are children under the age of 18.
Who are the families with children who experience homelessness?
Women made up three-quarters of the adults counted as experiencing family homelessness in the 2017 Point In Time data. Just over half of the people in families with children who used shelter in 2016 identified as African American or Black. Families who experience homelessness include single-parent families, two-parent families, and multi-generational families. Many families experiencing homelessness are made up of a young mother with one or two children under age six. About half of the people in families experiencing homelessness are in households with two or three people, and about a quarter are in larger households with five or more people.
The impact of homelessness on children
Compared to their peers, children experiencing homelessness and housing instability are more vulnerable to and experience higher rates of mental health problems, developmental delays, poor cognitive outcomes, and depression.
Why so many families end up homeless
For most families with children who experience homelessness, a driving factor is a shortage of affordable rental housing, given their income from employment, benefits, or other sources. When people are paying too large a share of their income for rent, even a minor crisis or setback, such as a reduction in work hours or an unexpected expense, can be destabilizing and result in the loss of housing. A recent survey found that nearly one in five renters with annual incomes below $30,000 were unable to pay rent within the past three months.
How you can help
There continues to be a concerted effort to better understand the scope, scale, and characteristics of family homelessness. As the Women’s Housing Coalition approaches it’s 40th anniversary, we continue to need and appreciate your support to provide affordable housing and support for families and individuals. You can make a donation to help the WHC, or if your workplace allows you to designate a nonprofit to give to through your paycheck, consider putting WHC down as the charity you want to help.
At the Women’s Housing Coalition we are grateful for our relationships with organizations that support women and help us create more stable families. The Junior League of Baltimore (JLB) has worked with us for the last three years collecting donations and hosting events for our residents.
In this Q and A, JLB President, Brina Masi Eades and Laura Hazan from the JLB Partnership & Service Committee share more about the Junior League and why they wanted to partner with the Women’s Housing Coalition.
Tell us more about the mission of The Junior League of Baltimore and why you wanted to partner with the WHC.
JLB is a leadership development organization. We train women to be civic leaders while actively helping our community. The JLB has been a presence in the Baltimore area since 1912, making this our 107th year of making a positive impact on the Baltimore community! We are actively recruiting our fall membership class right now.
The JLB’s community impact focus is “Women Building Women: helping women and girls unlock their potential through personal and professional development.” The JLB wanted to partner with an organization that would allow us to have a maximum impact on women’s lives in Baltimore. We were drawn to the amazing work the Women’s Housing Coalition has been doing in the Baltimore community by providing safe and affordable housing, as well as support services to housing insecure women and families in Baltimore. We have been honored and excited for the opportunity to join forces with the WHC these past three years.
What activities has your group done with WHC?
Junior League of Baltimore has had a number of different activities with WHC. We had a Mother’s Day brunch in 2018 that was well-received. We’ve had several game nights at Bennett, which are always so much fun. We had a healthy cooking class at Bennett as well. This 19/20 year we are going to have a standing “date” with WHC, on the third Thursday of every month with more game nights, craft nights and other wellness events planned.
Are there any memorable moments from partnering with WHC?
Memorable moments with WHC are in abundance, but one of our favorite moments was during a game night. One resident seemed shy about her ability to play the games, but she took a shine to a particular game called Heads Up. At first, she didn’t want to play, but by the end of the night, she lead the group in several rounds. She really came out of her shell.
Why do you think it’s important to support organizations like WHC?
WHC is an important partner for JLB for several reasons. WHC directly supports our mission of Women Building Women: helping women and girls unlock their potential through personal and professional development. More importantly, WHC gets our members into the community and impacting our neighbors by sharing our skills and knowledge.
For more information about the JLB’s work and ways to get involved, please visit www.jlbalt.org
Did you know that 1 in 5 adults and 1 in 5 teens are struggling with mental illness? Mental Health First Aid believes “Anyone, anywhere can be the one to make a difference in the life of someone with a mental health or substance use challenge – if they know what to do and what to say.”
Mental Health First Aid trains coaches, police officers, teachers, faith leaders and other caring individuals to look for the signs of mental illness and how to respond with appropriate intervention strategies.
At Women’s Housing Coalition, we participate in continuing education so that we can fully support all of our residents. It is important for all staff members to be educated and trained on the best way to interact with residents in an effective manner that supports them in their journey to improve their lives. Mental Health First Aid is just one of the training opportunities that our staff has attended along these lines.
Just as CPR helps you assist an individual having a heart attack, Mental Health First Aid helps you assist someone experiencing a mental health or substance use-related crisis. In the Mental Health First Aid course, we learned about the risk factors and warning signs for mental health and addiction concerns, strategies for how to help someone in both crisis and non-crisis situations, and where to turn for help.
Our staff members left with a better understanding of mental illness, and how they can help with a Mental Health First Aid action plan for a variety of situations including panic attacks, suicidal thoughts and behaviors, and reactions to traumatic events.
At Women’s Housing Coalition, we are thankful for courses like these so we can serve better and continue our mission of supporting families and individuals with permanent and affordable, service-enriched housing. If you would like to know more about Mental Health First Aid and the courses they have available, visit https://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org/bethedifference/.
The Women’s Housing Coalition was one of four organizations chosen this year to receive a $10,000 grant from Kaiser Permanente’s Youth in Action program. While it is important to celebrate this funding and the programs it will support, what is even more important is how it demonstrates that when we invest in the children in our community, we are supporting our city and our future.
What is Youth in Action? This is a program where Kaiser supports (by funding the grants, the teaching staff and with scholarship money for the students) an after-school program in a high school where students research issues in their community by using photography. They then select an issue they want to invest in and do all the steps necessary to award a grant to a non-profit organization. This means that these students look at issues in their community, research the issue, write a request for proposal (RFP) and then get to make a $10,000 grant award.
The RFP we were invited to apply for centered on Mental Health for African American Women. Their photos highlighted female heroes who overcame addiction, survived domestic violence, work multiple jobs, etc. The photos also highlighted how amazing these teens are by helping raise younger siblings and dodging street violence and drug dealers while going to school and writing college applications.
The grant will be a large part of the support for our mental health support workshops and group sessions led by a dynamic therapist. Our residents now have access to weekly group support sessions, several monthly workshops and group acupuncture – all focused on managing anxiety and trauma and encouraging mindfulness.
The program that distributes these grants is just as important as the work they are funding in the community. Through Youth in Action, these high school students put together a rigorous RFP that looked at our diversity of staff, board, and clients served. It asked about the issues of our residents and how the program would support them. They looked at budget and effectiveness. They riddled us with tough questions during their site visit as well.
To say we were impressed by the ten young women who participated from Green Street Academy is an understatement. As juniors, our ten students plan on participating in Youth in Action again next year, and their partnership with us didn’t end with awarding the grant. They are planning a pasta night for some WHC residents this summer and hope to do something for our residents quarterly.
When we are so quick to jump loudly on the negativity around our youth, it is important to celebrate an unnoticed, beautiful quiet moment. Please remember this when people are ready to give up on the youth in our city. They are often juggling more than you know and are diamonds in the rough.
Learn more about the Kaiser Permanente Thrive’s Youth in Action program
Here at WHC we have been working on creating a new logo. A logo is the most visible piece of marketing for a company or an organization; it’s what is seen most by the public. We have been working tirelessly for the past year and a half on bringing our concepts to life. Like many of you, we had no idea all that goes into this process.
We learned a few things through this process. If the logo design doesn’t align with the company’s products, services, or message, then the public will have a hard time identifying with the new look. Every little detail matters when creating something that will speak for your brand. Colors had to be considered; size for our website, business cards and stationery had to be considered; deciding between a symmetrical and asymmetrical logo design and confirming that the finished product was the best representation of our brand took a lot of work.
So what makes a great logo? Great logos follow five key principles: simple, memorable, timeless, versatile,and appropriate.
Simple logo designs allow for easy recognition and require the logo to be versatile and memorable. Great logos are always unique but understated. According to Jeff Fisher, a design guru, “simple logos are often easily recognized, incredibly memorable and the most effective in conveying the requirements of the client.”
Memorable logo principle follows closely behind the simple principle in the idea that all memorable logos are simple and appropriate. American Art director, Paul Rand, advises that “ultimately, the only mandate in the design of logos, it seems, is that they be distinctive, memorable, and clear.”
The next principle a great logo should follow is being timeless. Timeless logos are designs that stand the test of time. Timeless logos stand out and are memorable for being classic. Think about the logo for Coca Cola. The original logo was created in 1885 and hasn’t changed.
Versatile logos are able to work across a variety of mediums and applications.The logo should be able to work both in horizontal and vertical formats.
The final principle a logo must follow is it must be appropriate. Appropriate doesn’t need to show what a business sells or offers as a service but instead needs to be purely for identification. Paul Rand states that “a logo derives its meaning and usefulness from the quality of that which it symbolizes.”
We are grateful to all those that supported us in creating our new logo. At DesignFest, which was hosted by MICA and sponsored by the T. Rowe Foundation, several design students and professional designers helped us sketch out some preliminary concepts and start thinking about the overall brand style. With the support of RedStart Creative, we were able to finalize colors for the logo. Designer Danielle Nekimken helped put the finishing touches on our logo. We are also excited to have a Marketing Advisory Committee that is supporting us in revamping our marketing materials with the new logo. It truly takes a village, and we are blessed to have an amazing village that supports us.
According to a new study by the National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC),a Washington based non-profit, Baltimore is among seven U.S. cities that accounted for nearly half the country’s gentrification between 2000 and 2013. NCRC examined census data for 935 metropolitan areas in the U.S. and discovered gentrification was most intense in large coastal cities, concentrated in larger cities with vibrant economies. The researchers also looked at any corresponding displacement of black and Hispanic residents.Census tracts in Baltimore, New York, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, San Diego and Chicago accounted for nearly half the country’s gentrification from 2000 to 2013, according to the report. Of the 1,049 census tracts across the country that experienced gentrification during that time period, 501 fell in those cities, according to an article in The Baltimore Sun.
What is gentrification and what does it mean for Baltimore?
Gentrification is the process of renovating and improving a house or district so that it conforms to middle-class taste. Gentrification can improve the material quality of a neighborhood, while also potentially forcing relocation of current, established residents and businesses seeking lower cost housing and stores. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Health Effects of Gentrification Journal, gentrification often shifts a neighborhood’s racial/ethnic composition and average household income by developing new, more expensive housing, businesses and improved resources.
In Baltimore, leaders have caused gentrification to get worse by “acting to attract wealthy residents to neighborhoods rather than making areas better for residents who live there,” according to Carol Ott, tenant advocacy director for the Fair Housing Action Center of Maryland. The city had the fifth-highest number of gentrified census tracts, and the sixth-highest percentage of gentrified tracts: 171 of the city’s 679 census tracts were considered eligible for gentrification, and 22 percent of those neighborhoods experienced gentrification.
This data means that fewer and fewer affordable housing opportunities will be available in the communities that need it the most. In a city where nearly 1/2 of residents live below 200% of the federal poverty line, leaders should focus on improving a neighborhood without displacing people. Ott states that instead of focusing on “the people who live here now and not the people who you want to live here in 10 years,” that the city could “work to build more community centers and encourage the construction of affordable housing — for people who earn the city’s median income or under.”
We here at WHC, feel that affordable housing opportunities throughout Baltimore are needed in order to fight the homelessness epidemic. Currently we are completing our strategic plan, which addresses how we can support this need and serve more people. One of the ways to address the need is to increase the number of affordable housing options in the communities that need it the most. Stay tuned for more details later in the year.