08 Mar Member Spotlight- McPherson Housing Coalition
Imagine sending your child to sleep on someone’s couch while you try to not be noticed sleeping in your car. Or, maybe that child is the one your daughter sits next to in school every day. Maybe that mom is the hard-working cashier that is trying her best to be pleasant but didn’t get much sleep in her car last night. The reality is, couch surfing is a form of homelessness and it is happening in our hometown. Homelessness can also come in the form of over-crowded housing, where everyone is under one roof just to have shelter from the harsh elements. What happens when a medical condition leads to the loss of employment, then an eviction notice? Sometime homelessness comes in the form of a parent with children fleeing an abusive situation. Although homelessness may be fairly “invisible” in McPherson, it is very much a part of our community and a challenge that the McPherson Housing Coalition is working to improve. Through the HUD funding in the form of an Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG), the MHC has developed a homelessness prevention program for families in housing crises. Dr. Jean Ballew, director of ESG for the McPherson Housing Coalition explained that they received a $100,000 ESG that must be matched. This allows them to give financial assistance to families at risk of becoming homeless with short-term rental assistance and essential utility expenses. The MHC also works with families for up to two years as they transition into a more stable income and living environment. This transition is successful because of the community partnerships with Mt. Hope, STEP MC, DCF, OMEGA, St. Francis, Prairie View, United Way and other community organizations and resources. Dr. Jean Ballew shared stories that touched our heart, from the desperation in the voice on the other end of the phone, the conversation about helpful resources and the gift of hope, to the success stories of our neighbors and friends. The McPherson Housing Coalition is making a difference in the lives of local families and in our hometown.
Other ways the McPherson Housing Coalition is improving our community is through the well-known Brush Up Mac program, held this year on April 13th. MHC director, Chris Goodson said they have several hundred volunteers signed up this year. Volunteers work to clean up properties of low-income, elderly and disabled, build wheelchair ramps and make much needed repairs to homes. They not only spruce up the neighborhood but can make homes more energy efficient and livable. Volunteers are always appreciated, as are t-shirt sponsorships which in turn is used to purchase paint, trash bags and building supplies.
BAM FAM, a fund-raiser for the Homeless Prevention Program will be held on May 18th, 2019 and will include a 20, 40- and 60-mile bicycle ride as well as a Kids Bicycle Rodeo at Wall Park. For more information on the events & programs of the McPherson Housing Coalition, call 620-241-7828, find them on Facebook and www.mcphersonhousingcoalition.com
The nearly “invisible” homelessness in our community isn’t invisible if you hear the grief in a phone call, see the desperation in the eyes of a parent trying to provide for their child, or witness the trauma of eviction. Join in the solutions and the journey of hope with the McPherson Housing Coalition.