September 2021 marks two years since Partners for Housing (P4H) held its grand opening ceremony for Union Street Place, their third emergency homeless shelter, and first outside the City of Mankato. I remember the event clearly. My employment with P4H had commenced on Monday and it was “hit the ground running” to execute the open house on Friday that same week.

So much has changed in two years’ time, in our community, country and world - social upheaval, political conflict, and a pandemic. I know how disruptive these events have been with my own family, job, home, and social circle. It’s hard to imagine adding another life stressor – homelessness – to the chaos.

What I have seen over the past two years is a continuous outpouring of hospitality and professionalism in the P4H staff as they, on a near bi-weekly basis, welcome new guests to shelter. Each guest comes to shelter, having hit their own rock-bottom. Whatever their story, P4H staff works with them on a person-by-person, family-by-family basis to overcome the barriers they have faced to gaining stable housing. Some guests stay for a few weeks, and others for up to three months. During their stay, they work on employment, goal setting, budgeting, and search for housing. They are provided with resources on mental health, transportation and childcare. The P4H goal is that, by the end of their stay, guests will have arrangements in place and tools to maintain clean, safe and affordable housing for themselves and their household.

During a brief conversation with a guest who had recently moved out, she thanked our staff, sharing that Union Street Place was a mooring where she could experience stability in a chaotic world. It was a respite from her biggest burden for a time. Things are looking up for her and her family.

Speaking for myself and my colleagues at Partners for Housing, it is a joy to walk alongside people, providing support as they find stability and overcome barriers in these uncertain times. I know that our staff will continue to help others settle, grow and eventually flourish as they enter our shelter and work toward their housing goals.

Partners for Housing’s mission is to guide individuals and families toward housing stability. Women and families seeking housing are encouraged to fill out an application at partnersforhousing.org. To become involved with their programs or to donate, please contact 507-387-2115 or visit the website listed above.

Kirsten Becker is the communications manager for Partners for Affordable Housing, which works on housing issues in the area, including Nicollet, Le Sueur and Blue Earth counties.

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