Moving In and Moving Up – Our House Residents Break Bondage of Homelessness

KERRVILLE – BCFS Health and Human Services-Kerrville recently welcomed new residents  into the renovated transitional apartments for homeless young adults, BCFS’ Our House. Our  House helps youth and young parents struggling with homelessness achieve self-sufficiency and grow into contributing members of the Hill Country community.

The eight-unit complex was remodeled and furnished in late 2015 with funds provided by The Perry and Ruby Stevens Foundation and The Cailloux Foundation. Soon after, residents began moving in, eager to start their journey toward independent adulthood.

Our House offers residents little to no monthly rent for a furnished apartment in a drug- and alcohol-free environment. In exchange, residents must participate in case management, counseling, and employment and educational services provided by BCFS-Kerrville, where they can also receive assistance to meet their basic needs for food, clothing and hygiene products. A Resident Advisor lives in the complex to oversee the facility and provide support to residents.

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“We help them learn about the responsibilities of maintaining a home,” explains BCFS Director Brenda Thompson. “Part of that is learning financial responsibility and contributing to a savings account to prepare to move out of Our House, into their own place.”

A Perfect Opportunity

Twenty-one year old Priscilla Oliva and her 2-year-old daughter, Izabella, didn’t have a home of their own. It was difficult for Priscilla to work and save enough money for her own apartment while caring for her daughter.

“I was living with my aunt, it was getting too crowded and I needed a place where my daughter and I could be safe,” Oliva says. “My aunt’s friend, Miss Kathleen (BCFS Director of Development Kathleen Maxwell-Rambie), told her about Our House.”

When little Izabella was born, Oliva had to put her career goals on hold. Since moving into Our House, she has taken computer classes at the BCFS Hill Country Resource Center and job preparation classes with the Christian Women’s Job Corps. Her goal is to become a pharmaceutical technician.

“It’s working perfectly,” Oliva says of her arrangement at Our House. “For where I’m at in my life right now, it’s helping me get where I need to be; it’s just the perfect opportunity for us.”

Kerrville Community Happy to Help

IMG_9287Thompson has secured several sponsorships for Our House that allow community members to help furnish the apartments. Sponsors can help purchase each apartment’s odds and ends, and “things that make the apartment feel like home,” Thompson says, like rugs, silverware trays, dishware, and toys, if the tenant has a small child.

“Once you hear stories from our youth about their past difficulties, their resilience and work ethic, people get excited to sponsor them and show compassion,” describes Thompson. The Kerrville Junior Service Guild and First United Methodist Church are among the groups who have sponsored residents, as well as private individuals.

“Our House helps you focus on yourself,” says Oliva. “And getting you where you need to be to do it on your own; that’s very helpful. I want to be able to do it on my own with my daughter and…to be a good role model for her.”

For more information about BCFS-Kerrville and Our House, visit DiscoverBCFS.net/Kerrville or call (830) 896-0993.

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BCFS is a global system of health and human service non-profit organizations with locations and programs throughout the United States as well as Eastern Europe, Latin America, Asia and Africa. The organization is a national leader in medical sheltering and emergency management and response, providing critical emergency support services to federal, state and local governments. BCFS also provides residential services and emergency shelters for children who are abused or neglected; assisted living services and vocational training for adults with intellectual disabilities; mental health services for children and families, foster care and adoption services; medical services; early education; transitional living services for youth who are at-risk and those in the juvenile justice system; residential camping and retreats for children and families; and international humanitarian aid for children living in impoverished conditions in developing countries.

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