How long have you been with St. Francis House? What is your role?
I started at St Francis House in November 2020, just over a year now. I work in the housing department as a housing navigator, so my job is to help the guests look for housing. This can mean contacting landlords, helping guests complete applications, making sure that they have all the identification and documentation they need for different kinds of housing opportunities, and helping make sure their move in process goes smoothly.
What part of your job do you enjoy most?
Housing can be a very long and involved process. This allows me to spend a lot of time with guests. I’ve gotten to know many of them really well and have learned so much about their lives. Many of our guests are going through some of the most challenging things a person can go through, and I am amazed over and over by how determined they are to improve their lives and achieve their goals – despite all the barriers they are facing. It feels incredible to support them through the whole process and to watch them grow. It is especially rewarding to help them cross the finish line and see all of their hard work pay off.
Is there anything you wish people knew about your role or your department?
I think the strongest part of St Francis House’s housing department is the commitment to stabilization after a guest is housed – this can often be the element of housing programs that gets the least attention, despite being probably the most important. People sometimes think of housing as a cure-all, but most of the same barriers and problems that existed before you got your keys still exist afterwards. If you are struggling with addiction, if your mental health is not being addressed, if you have difficulty making or sticking to a budget, if you feel isolated from your community, all of these things can make it extremely difficult to maintain housing, and we would be doing our guests a disservice to pretend otherwise. The last thing we want is for our guests who have worked hard and waited a long time for a housing opportunity to lose it because they weren’t getting the help they needed in some other facet of their life.
I cannot applaud our stabilization staff enough for all that they do for our guests, both for our residents at 39 Boylston, The Union and our guests who are housed in other locations throughout the community. In my opinion, this is where the real work to prevent homelessness happens. The stabilization element is how we prevent a cycle of getting housed and falling back into homelessness. It is necessary to ensure our guests have all the resources they need to succeed and that we keep them connected to St Francis House. We are there for those seeking help and reassuring guests that they are not alone.