What do you envision when you hear the word homeless?

In recognition of November being Homelessness Awareness Month, we ask the question: What do you envision when you hear the word “homeless?” A man with a scraggly beard and dirty clothes and a bag on his back packed with all he owns? Perhaps someone asleep on a bench piled with newspaper coverings, but in a much larger city than ours?

While at times these vision may reflect a form of homelessness, it is not an accurate vision of the homeless in our community. Our community often sees homelessness in a different light. They are people, like you and me, who may be working jobs, tending to their families, or attempting to find the means to start over, just without a permanent residence to call “home.”

Homelessness Awareness Month was started in 2007 in order to bring awareness to communities of the homeless individuals that are in the area. While our community is small, with a rural feel, Lycoming County is home to multiple shelter programs, assisting those who are experiencing homelessness for various reasons. Working together, our area providers tackle specific needs of our homeless population to ensure less duplicated efforts.

A program unlike others in Lycoming County, Liberty House, is sober-living housing program within the walls of the YWCA. We shelter women, with or without children, who are experiencing homelessness while recovering from an addiction. Since 2003, women have been able to find comfort, security, and support to get the help they need to get back on their feet, while maintaining sobriety.

More than just a “place to call home,” Liberty House offers residents of the program tools and knowledge to overcome their identified barriers and challenges.

A case manager is assigned to each woman who comes into the program to best ensure their path to self-sufficiency is a success. Residents of the program can rest assured in knowing they have a place to stay but also unending support from trained staff to combat substance abuse disorders, mental and physical health challenges, learn everyday life skills, work through any unaddressed trauma and take on the world in a positive way.

“Liberty House staff take pride in working with each resident to help them identify what has lead them to where they are currently, while connecting them to our community’s resources and supports to ensure when faced with similar life mishaps, they know how to navigate their way through,” said Jernae Drummond, Housing Services Supervisor of the YWCA.

In order for a woman to be eligible for Liberty House, she would need to call 2-1-1 and complete an over-the-phone assessment to measure the vulnerability and risk factors to secure and maintain a home. Those considered most at risk are connected to the team of Liberty House for further consultation and intake services to determine if this program is the best fit.

The YWCA believes everyone deserves a home and our hope is to someday put an end to the homelessness in our community by helping those in need gain access to the tools needed to succeed in life after being homeless.

If you or someone you know has experienced domestic violence, sexual assault, other violent crimes or homelessness, call our confidential 24/7 hotline at 1-800-326-8483. To learn more about our programs and how you can help, visit our website at www.ywcawilliamsport.org.


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