Housing Options for Women, or HOW, is a local organization that is at the forefront of a national movement to end homelessness, in Chicago and across the nation.
Through a holistic approach that combines the increased availability of affordable, supportive housing with support services that foster life-long self-sufficiency. HOW starts by giving a woman and her children a home, then helps them transition to paying for that home themselves.
Founded in 1983, HOW has already empowered thousands of clients to break the cycle of poverty and has a strong rate of long-term success: More than 90% of HOW’s permanent supportive housing clients have retained that housing. That means they have enabled their children to grow up in stable homes. In fiscal year 2011 alone, HOW was able to stabilize 1500 individuals, 39% of whom were children.
HOW works with an innovative “Housing First” model through which it focuses first on providing housing for its clients and their children. With a roof over their heads, HOW’s clients are then able to get individualized help through a case management program geared toward getting their lives back on track and themselves and their children off the streets for good. That process often includes resolving health and substance abuse issues, as well as addressing the need for education and job training. HOW uses 95 cents of each dollar it raises in providing direct services to its clients and identifies other community services and resources as well.
HOW also provides comprehensive academic coaching, mental health counseling, and after-school and summer enrichment programs to effectively break the inter-generational cycle of poverty and homelessness. HOW performs its work without judgment or condemnation of an individual, but with the open recognition that its services, our community’s bounty, and God’s grace are not reserved for the few or the righteous, but are to be shared with us all.