Local organization aims to end homelessness
Implementing the ‘housing first’ model
CARSON CITY, Nev. (KOLO) -Housing first: that’s a model Spirit of Hope wishes other organizations will adopt.
Jon Rogers is Board Chairman of Spirit of Hope.
“Spirit of Hope started with a simple premise, if you want to address homelessness you have to give stable housing first,” explained Rogers. “How can we get people in housing? We can rent houses and charge people who live in those houses and the model is possible and very transferable.”
Currently housing around 50 people throughout the Carson city community, the organization receives client referrals from local hospitals, mental health facilities and rehabs.
Ellen Jackson founded Spirit of Hope more than 5 years ago.
“We are clean and sober homes, so we don’t want that kind of addiction issue coming into the home fresh,” said Jackson. “We need someone who is in there recovery so it is a nice home environment for the other folks there who are also in their recovery. I like to get clients or guests if you will that are with a social worker attached that way we have a better understanding of what that’s guest needs are and we work closely with them”
Providing essential items and a warm bed makes all the difference for residents who are familiar with the streets of Northern Nevada all too well.
Brandon Barham said at the time, he was couch surfing surrounded by the temptation of drugs before admitting himself to a rehab center.
“I went to rehab to try and get my life together. I told them if I don’t find a place to go, all this is for nothing if I go back to where I was,” said Barham. “They introduced me to Miss Ellen and for over a year now Miss Ellen and the Spirit of Hope crew have created a healthy and safe living environment. Now I’m a productive member of society again.”
Barham explained living with others who are sober eliminates the worries of falling back into a vicious cycle of being addicted to drugs or alcohol.
“Right now, I’m continuing in my sobriety and that’s the biggest thing right now is work my full time job and pay my bills and help others living in the house too,” Barham added.
For Stacey Brammer, he struggled with heroin addiction for forty years. Also diagnosed with cancer a few years ago, he moved between nursing homes and that’s when Jackson took him in.
Brammer explained it was a brush with death and God’s will that pushed him to get his life back on track and inspire others to get help.
“She saved my life 3 times, she’s never asked me for anything ever,” said Brammer. “Just pay rent, that’s it and stay sober and live my life and be happy. You can’t get much better than that.”
Rogers said the ‘housing first’ approach is such a success because basic needs are met, making it easier for clients to maintain their sobriety and hold down a job.
Just ask Wayne Eichhorst, who said doctors told him if he continued to drink, he would be cutting his life short.
“I didn’t have anywhere to go and Ellen believed in me. Plus, I was just ready. The support Spirit of Hope and Ellen has given me has really boosted my confidence and living condition,” said Eichhorst. “I don’t ask for much but when I do need something, she’s always there.”
Jackson and Rogers both hope to see this platform take off in other surrounding communities and across the United States.
“Many times we think we need a government agency to buy into our vision and give us millions of dollars,” added Rogers. “Anybody, I mean you can get together two of your friends and come up with 7,000 to rent a house to get someone off the streets and you need a person with a heart like Ellen’s heart. Then you’re off and running. I love that about Spirit of hope, it’s super direct and very simple.”
Jackson said the next step for Spirit of Hope is to own more houses, instead of renting from owners so they can expand their services to others and remain self sufficient.
“Áfter weeks or months, they blossom, they grow and sometimes unrecognizable and that is just pure joy for me and my staff and keeps us going,” added Jackson.
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