A True Sister’s Keeper: My Sister’s House Transitional Living Program
Written by Perrine DeShield
Homelessness effects every city in America and unfortunately, Charlotte is no different. Currently, the face of homelessness in the Queen City has evolved and now features the faces of many women. My Sister’s House Transitional Living Program is giving much-needed support for women in our community who may be facing sudden unemployment, drug abuse, recent release from incarceration, domestic violence or untreated mental health issues.
The My Sister’s House program empowers and encourages women to make healthy, positive lifestyle changes that will help them progress towards their goals and decrease their chances of returning to a state of homelessness.
Jennifer Coble, the executive director of Friendship Community Development Corporation, the non-profit overseeing the My Sister’s House program, understands that the Black community has historically stigmatized mental health but is working to combat it’s stereotypes. Jennifer believes, “By promoting the value of and providing resources to maintain good physical and mental health, we disarm the stigmatism associated with mental health services. We are proud to employ a staff of highly-skilled, Black, female professionals that ‘look like’ our residents and are able to maintain a cultural community of shared experiences, challenges, and stressors – especially as it relates to life, work, family, and relationships. Having a culturally competent staff actively working to maintain healthy, professional relationships with residents helps to ensure a mutual understanding of the benefits of counseling services and the importance of mental health within the Black community overall.” Jennifer and her team at My Sister’s House create a safe space for women to ask for help and accept it.
This 2019 statistic from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) breaks down the racial disparity between Black women and non-Black women when it comes to homelessness:
According to local Point-in-Time Count data, 77 percent of people experiencing homelessness in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Continuum of Care (CoC) are Black, while 18 % are White. American Community Survey data indicates that only 31 percent of the general population in Charlotte Mecklenburg is Black.
Every woman who participates in the program has her own unique circumstances and My Sister’s House makes it their priority to meet those special needs. Jennifer mentioned that, “Individual plans for overall (personal) development and housing goals are required and established for each resident to address barriers to housing and employment. This process promotes resiliency and accountability and makes the resident an active participant in her journey towards securing safe, sustainable housing.” Residents receive weekly reminders from program social workers and counselor supervisors to ensure they stay on track and build a strong foundation for the future.
What we all must remember is that the Covid-19 pandemic has created a crisis for many populations and has gravely affected the homeless community. According to Jennifer, to end homelessness, a community-wide coordinated approach is vital to
delivering services, housing and programs to those in need.
Here are a few tips from Jennifer that we can all put into action:
- Help your neighbors
- Donate to food pantries
- Share resources with those who do not have access
- Support organizations that provide housing and rent assistance
- Understand that fellow members of our community are one paycheck away from homelessness. Help however and whenever you can.
Many organizations have been hit hard during this pandemic and it’s important we continue to support our community well beyond Black Philanthropy Month. Community members can follow My Sister’s House on Instagram: @MySistersHouseCLT as well as the Friendship Community Development Corporation on Facebook: @FriendshipCDC.
“Our residents are strong, resilient women with inspiring stories. They have battled toxic relationships, illness, depression, financial devastation, and more.” –Jennifer Coble
VOTE NOW: My Sister's House is in the running to win $5K this month thanks to the Amy and Brian France Foundationwho have partnered with SHARE Charlotte for this year’s Spotlight Series and YOU can help when you VOTE NOW! You can also check out the other organizations eligible to win this month’s prize, here!