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Martin de Porres - "House of Hope"

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Mission Statement
Needs Assessment
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Needs Assessment

The need for a safe, secure, and supportive shelter for women during a crisis of homelessness is clear. In twenty years of operation, from May 19, 1983 through May 31, 2004, St. Martin de Porres has aided, housed, and fed 12,947 women and children. Of those receiving shelter, 512 were pregnant teenagers, 404 of whom had at least one child.

Estimates of the number of homeless people in Chicago vary widely. Yet a comparison of needs and current resources based even on the most conservative figures displays a stark insufficiency. It is extremely difficult for any young single woman with one or more children to reach her full potential. Indeed, many children in Chicago will not survive for a single year. Statistics show that the median income for a single female and her family is only $12,000; that 75% of pregnant teenagers become welfare recipients.

The shelter aims to serve women with children, substance abusers with or without children, and teenagers. The woman and her children may remain until the recovery is sufficient for them to become stabilized and move to independence, which could be from ten months to a year, sometimes longer.

Sister Connie-Solutions That Work
            Act-Reconnecting Compassion

History of the Shelter

St. Martin de Porres House of Hope is located in the Woodlawn Community (Community Area #42)in southeast Chicago and is the only shelter for women in that neighborhood. Woodlawn is one of the poorest neighborhoods in Chicago. Abandoned buildings and deserted lots dominate the landscape. Housing quality is poor, rents are high; sub-standard or condemned housing often forces residents to seek shelter. Others with adequate shelter find their living situations intolerable due to physical and sexual abuse or extreme poverty. Another large number of residents become homeless because of drug addiction and unanticipated family expenses.

Since May 19, 1983, when Sister Connie Driscoll and Sister Therese O'Sullivan established the shelter, the doors of St. Martin de Porres have remained open daily to homeless women and families. The shelter currently has a capacity of 110 persons with the means to increase to a total of 120 beds if necessary, a staff of 14, and over 100 volunteers, 60 of whom participate at least once a month. Two staff members live at the shelter.

Requests for shelter come from throughout the Chicago area. We accept requests for shelter on a first-come, first-served basis. Requests must come from a social service organization--a church or temple, hospital, Department of Human Services, Department of Public Aid, Department of Children and Family Services, referrals by past residents, or others. The only restrictions on living at the House of Hope are that a woman must follow the rules and regulations of the shelter, must be serious about making positive changes in her life, must remain sober, drug free and cannot be seriously mentally ill.