'Housing First' supporter and author Kathy Izard comes to Murfreesboro Feb. 12

Jan 17, 2020 at 02:10 pm by Terri Donovan

Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church

On Wednesday, Feb. 12, Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church in downtown Murfreesboro is sponsoring Take Root, a community wide luncheon to benefit The Journey Home’s (TJH) Supportive Housing Program.

The luncheon will feature keynoter Kathy Izard, author of “The Hundred Story Home,” a memoir of her personal faith journey in establishing permanent supportive housing for the homeless in Charlotte, North Carolina. While there is no charge to attend the luncheon, the church will accept donations.

The luncheon will be held in St. Paul’s Parish Hall from 11:30 a.m. until 1 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 12, and catered by Five Senses Restaurant. To reserve your seat, click on this link. You can also call or text TAKE ROOT to 615.236.6090 to make a reservation.

During her remarks, Izard will tell the story of how she got involved, and the steps she and others took in Charlotte to answer a single question: Where are the beds?

Izard’s personal story grew into a national model based on “Housing First.” Housing First is a homeless assistance approach that prioritizes providing permanent housing and dedicated support services to people experiencing homelessness, serving as a platform, so they can pursue their personal goals and improve their quality of life.

Housing First is guided by the belief that people need basic necessities like food and a place to sleep before attending to other life goals like getting a job, budgeting properly, or getting treatment for substance use or mental health problems.

Izard’s own story with Charlotte’s homelessness began when she and her family volunteered at a soup kitchen and continues today with more than 100 people living in homes of their own in the Charlotte area. Woven through Kathy’s story is her own personal struggle with her faith and what God was calling her to do with her life.

Proceeds from the luncheon will benefit TJH’s Supportive Housing Program, which was launched 10 years ago to develop permanent supportive housing for people in Rutherford County who are experiencing homelessness. Permanent supportive housing provides an individual home for residents along with support services to help residents maintain their housing and work on their goals. Currently, TJH has 25 housing units, all of which are consistently in use. In just over 10 years since the program began, 169 households have participated, with more than 90 percent of those involved achieving sustainability and completing the transition into marketplace housing.

“The demand for permanent supportive housing in this area far outpaces the housing we have available,” said Scott Foster, Executive Director, The Journey Home. “And, as our county has grown, housing prices have risen dramatically, which puts a permanent home even further out of reach of people who may be working but who cannot afford rent or those who cannot work due to health reasons. More than 3,000 people will experience homelessness in Rutherford County this year. We are growing the Supportive Housing Program to help more people who are struggling get a roof over their heads so they can deal with the other challenges in their lives.”

“We see many single women with children, and older adults who need help,” Foster added, “so these two groups are our initial focus. Through our work for the past 10 years, we have learned that the way to help get people off the streets permanently is to provide housing first. If I have a home, I belong somewhere. If I belong somewhere, I have value. If I have value, I’m worth the investment to address the obstacles I face.”

The benefit fundraiser is a first for St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.

“We have been involved in supporting The Journey Home for a number of years,” said Rev. Dr. Kristine Blaess, rector at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. “Our church operates the Coldest Nights shelter for women, and we provide meals for The Journey Home’s clients on a regular basis. We have many people in our congregation who volunteer at The Journey Home and who are involved in the community to help meet the needs of people who are homeless. When we learned about Kathy Izard’s story, we knew immediately we wanted to bring her to Murfreesboro to learn more about what she was able to make happen in Charlotte. We are very excited about inviting the entire community to join us on Feb. 12.”

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