HOME still open for homeless

Friday, November 30, 2012

Plans to buy the Victorian Inn to use in part for a homeless shelter have fallen through, but people who don't have a roof over their heads this winter still have HOME.

HOME stands for Hands Open for Ministry and Empowerment, a group of individuals and church pastors who organized under the umbrella of ECHO, Eureka Christian Health Outreach, earlier this year. HOME fields calls and processes requests for shelter, then pays for rooms in area motels, using donations from the community.

"We've got some money, but it goes pretty quick if you've got a family to put up," said Suzie Bell, a board member.

HOME has been processing one or two requests for shelter a week, Bell said. Some are from people just passing through who need a warm place for the night. But the main emphasis is helping people in the community who, for one reason or another, have no place to live.

"It's a real eye-opener," Bell said.

Sometimes the person is homeless because of a lost job or a divorce situation. Sometimes it's a woman who had to get out of abusive situation, or a pregnant teenager who was thrown out of the house. Many are single women. Some are families with children.

"It breaks my heart when people are without hope, are without a roof over their head," Bell said.

Applicants must fill out a form and be screened by the police. HOME also tries to assist people who are homeless with other needs: food, job counseling or social services.

"It grew out of the fact that so many of our patients (at ECHO) have a housing need," Bell said. "Healing is not just medical."

HOME provides a centralized place to refer requests for shelter, which often come in to churches, Bell said. This way, it doesn't 'bleed the goodness of one congregation,' she said, and prevents someone going from church to church looking for help. HOME also works with the county probation officer to help people who have been released from jail.

"We believe that everyone deserves mercy," Bell said.

Donations marked "HOME" can be sent to ECHO, 4004 E. Van Buren, Eureka Springs, AR 72632.

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