Hosted by Marc Clarke, “Game Changers” is a new public affairs program that features interviews with Baltimore citizens, government officials, and non-profits that are doing great work to move Baltimore forward. This week our own Gerard Joab had the chance to talk about the work St. Ambrose does to help create housing stability in Baltimore. With a stable home, families can give their children the needed foundation to grow and thrive.
Christina, aka Jolley, has been homeless for almost three years. She stayed with friends for several months while looking for a permanent place to call home for her and her kids.
“If I had permanent housing before all this had happened, my life would be completely different. I think that I would still be in school or at a better job that I’m in right now. I could really support my kids how I really wanted to. It would just be perfect.”
Our Host Home Program helps people like Christina find stability. Listen to her story below as she tells us what it means to a safe and secure home.
Want to learn more about the Host Home Program? Contact Renee Stainrod at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 410-366-8550 X 233
Organizations like St. Ambrose can do little without the support of individuals and other partnering organizations. With their help we are able to build a stronger network of services and resources for our communities. Religious organizations are one group of supporters who helped St. Ambrose during our early years, and still do today through impact investing.
Early in the 1970s congregations of Catholic Nuns, more commonly known today as Women Religious, began a trend of investing in communities using loans to create a more direct and significant effect on social justice causes. It was a whole new way of operating for many congregations. As described in a Shelterforce article by Dee Walsh, “The money they invested was what they would rely on to care for their sustenance and retirement. It was a big, risky step, but they embraced the challenge and have done amazingly well, with no regrets, few losses, and a tremendous amount of positive change along the way.”
These religious loans showed a tremendous amount of trust and commitment to the causes they were supporting, and they had an incredible impact. In addition to the substantial amount of loans and direct investments they have given to organizations, Women Religious strongly influenced the growth of the Community Development Financial Institutions. In fact many of the CDFIs today got their start from congregations of Women Religious.
One of the earliest examples of this investing came from the Adrian Dominican Sisters. They had become increasingly aware of redlining practices and in 1978 established an alternative investment loan fund. The loans allowed the Sisters to develop stronger relationships with the organizations as opposed to giving grants. St. Ambrose is just one of the recipients of the over 500 loans distributed by the Adrian Dominican Sisters.
Other religious lenders who have supported St. Ambrose include Sisters of Notre Dame, Sisters of St. Francis, Sisters of Charity, Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and several others. Their funds have made a significant impact on our ability to work in Baltimore.
For more on Women Religious and their innovative funding methods, check out the Shelterforce article!
Mulatto’s host home journey started early last year. He spent several months living in different homeless shelters in Baltimore city before coming to the YES Drop-In Center for their Rapid Rehousing Program. While waiting for his housing, Mulatto is eagerly anticipating the start of St. Ambrose’s Host Home Program.
The Host Home Program helps connect youth with safe and stable homes until they can find permanent housing. In his story Mulatto tells us what the opportunity to find a host home would mean to him.
If you are interested in being a Host for a youth experiencing homelessness, contact Renee Stainrod at email@example.com or calling 410) 366-6180 ext. 233. Our next host home trainings are February 17th and March 17th.
Syeetah never thought she could be a homeowner, but she has been living in her St. Ambrose home for 5 years. Today she sits on the board for St. Ambrose and is happy to tell her St. Ambrose story of how her dream of home ownership became a reality.
Lisa Evans was born and raised in Baltimore. After working in D.C. for a while she found an interest in community development work. Baltimore, her home, had been working on a lot of innovative projects and had some excited programs, so she figured, why not go home?
Currently Evans serves as the Executive Director of One House At A Time, but in her career she has held several positions working on the local and state level, including Deputy Director at St. Ambrose right in the middle of the foreclosure crisis. She shared with us some of her insights as a Woman in Community Development (WICD):
“When the foreclosure crisis hit, it hit in a huge way. We saw what lending did to communities and the strong, negative impact it could have.
All of a sudden community development became community stabilization. Neighborhoods that were once improving or at least stable were on the downturn. The focus became how do we make sure we didn’t see more vacants or blithe? We would fix one house and 4 more vacants would appear. Property values plummeted, dropping around 65% in value.
But now neighborhoods are improving. Barclay area is a great example. 10 years ago, vacant lots made it almost impossible for developers to rent properties in that neighborhood. And how did it turn around? Community development is about coming in and doing work that creates that change.
The question we have to ask is how do we target our community development. We would like to fix it all, but with limited resources we just can’t. It’s interesting in Baltimore because it’s a city that 3 blocks one way or 3 blocks another way is a completely different world. It’s hard to decide which way to go. In community development we say, ‘build from strength.’ So you want to build in those spots that are doing well, but you want to help these other neighborhoods that aren’t doing as well. It can be hard to figure out where to target. Very little in this field is cut and dry. You see everyone doing good, and you wish you could do more. But it’s a lot of chipping away, not mammoth steps.”
Nothing fills us with warmth and holiday spirit like giving back to our community. You can help St. Ambrose support families working to give their children the secure foundation of a home to build a bright future. We would not be able to do our work without your help.
Online donationsare a classic and valuable way to give. Or if you looking for ways to get creative with your contributions, here are few other ways you can support St. Ambrose.
December 7th is the Feast Day of Saint Ambrose. It is celebrated in Milan, where Aurelius Ambrosius served as a Governor who earned popularity among his subjects through his gentle spirit. As an inspirational namesake, we wanted to celebrate Saint Ambrose Day and share a little about this Patron Saint of Beekeepers, Beggars and Learners.
Aurelius Ambrosius was one of the most influential ecclesiastical figures of the 4th century. He spent most of his time with his people, who sought him out for consolation and hope. He believed that generosity to the poor was a repayment of God’s resources of which everyone was entitled equally.
When the current Bishop passed away, Ambrosius was so well loved that there was a public outcry for the Church to appoint him Bishop. Ambrosius was so humble that he went into hiding to avoid the appointment. He was forced to become Bishop when the current Emperor threatened to punish anyone who gave him shelter. Upon his appointment, Ambrosius gave all of his money and land to the poor. He served as Bishop of Milan for the next 23 years.
His teachings make him a fitting role model for our organization. Like Saint Ambrose we strive to help the under-served and assist low-income families. And as explained in our tagline “The temple stands unfinished until all are housed in dignity,” we believe everyone deserves the resources that enable them to grow, thrive and build bright futures.
*Information on Saint Ambrose provided by Ms. Marian Ervin, St. Ambrose Staff