Newsletter: January 2019

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

January is a hopeful time. We open a new calendar and all the empty spaces are there waiting to be filled in. The year is fresh and each day a new possibility. Maybe this is the year we will keep our resolutions.

January is also the middle of the cold and flu season, which can put a damper on our outlook. Coughs and sniffles are heard throughout our Crisis Center. Although it’s never fun for anyone to be sick, we must never forget that it is much worse for people who are homeless and/or living with very low incomes.

The link between poverty and illness is close and clear and they trade off between cause and effect: serious illness can lead to poverty, and poverty exacerbates existing health conditions.

For the homeless in particular, health issues are a major concern. The organization Health Care for the Homeless has compiled some devastating statistics. Men and women who are homeless are:

  • three to four times more likely to die prematurely
  • twice as likely to have a heart attack or stroke
  • three times more likely to die of heart disease if they are between 25 and 44 years old

At least 25% of people experiencing homelessness have a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder or major depression. A majority of these individuals also have an addiction.

What is perhaps most shocking? The life expectancy of a person experiencing homelessness is just 48 years.

Being homeless puts a person at high risk for just about all health problems. People who are homeless generally experience higher exposure to infection and violence. They have little control over nutrition and personal hygiene. Sleep deprivation can also be debilitating.

If a person is sick, being homeless makes him or her sicker.

Our experience working with the homeless in our Hospitality Room backs up these figures and conclusions. In fact, it’s rare that we meet someone who isn’t struggling with at least one health concern. You’d probably be surprised at the number of heart attack and stroke survivors who are living on the street. We are. They come to us for food, a hot shower, and clean clothes. They can count on us to be a friendly, welcoming place.

We also welcome men and women who did manual labor and now their bodies have given out: their backs, shoulders, and knees can no longer do the work needed to earn a paycheck. And then there are those who are subject to a special kind of misunderstanding and prejudice: the ones coping with mental illness. In our Hospitality Room, they are accepted, respected, and given a safe haven.

There is so much to do in caring for people. We are grateful for your support which enables us to be there for those who feel unloved and alone. For the homeless, as it is for everyone, the future is a great unknown. But we do know God is already there, and that is sufficient for today.

The National Health Care for the Homeless Council makes an excellent point that bears repeating: Housing is health care. It is simple and obvious and so it gets overlooked. Having a place to live is at the foundation of living a healthy life. That is why our Financial Assistance program at the Crisis Center does a lot to help individuals and families obtain housing and hold onto it.

Joanna, for example, was in desperate need of rental assistance. She is 60 years old, lives alone, and is disabled. She had surgery almost a year ago and then was in a nursing home for eight months. Joanna is still confined to a wheelchair and doesn’t know if this is permanent. The rent takes a big chunk of her monthly disability income of $675. She is allotted only $45 per month in Food Stamps, so she must spend money from her check for groceries. She also has a phone bill and needs to use a taxi sometimes. Money gets tight really fast.

Joanna was going to be evicted because of past-due rent payments totaling $400. She had $150 to her name. Fortunately, the Joseph House was able to pay the remaining balance of $250 to the landlord.

Tamar, also age 60, fell on hard times after her husband died. She had to give up the trailer that was their home. Homeless, she didn’t know where to go or what to do. She started living in motels, but that was costly and her money was running out.

Recently, Tamar was hospitalized for a brief period. A social worker on staff learned about Tamar’s lack of housing and helped her find a place to live. After being discharged, Tamar came to the Joseph House and we agreed to pay $100 toward the apartment’s security deposit. Since it wasn’t going to be ready for a few days, we also paid $156 so Tamar could spend two nights in a motel.

Remember: Housing is health care, and the discussion of health care in this country needs to contend with the growing shortage of affordable housing.

Thank you for your commitment to the Joseph House. Your loyal support means less suffering for the vulnerable members of our community. We are grateful, and so are they.

A New Year lies ahead: let’s resolve to be people of peace, mercy, and gratitude. Let’s make our world shine a little brighter with love and bless each day with acts of kindness. As the year unfolds please know that you are always in our prayers.

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary


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Newsletter: March 2018

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

Home is where our story begins.

If this is true for us then it was true for Jesus when He walked the earth, born into the family of Mary and Joseph. He lived in a home created by His parents in the town of Nazareth. The house itself was likely humble in appearance, square in form and constructed of stone and clay. The roof may have served as an open-air terrace. An oven was probably outside and maybe a fig tree.

It’s interesting to note that Jewish families often kept a wooden receptacle attached to the wall by the door. Inside were strips of parchment on which were written passages from Scripture. Upon entering or leaving the house, the box was reverently touched, an indication of how a family’s dwelling place is sacred ground.

For Jesus, His home in Nazareth was more than simply a place to eat and sleep. It was a place to grow and develop. A place to feel cared for, protected, and loved. Day by day, in moments shared with Mary and Joseph, Jesus became the man we know in the Gospels.

Everyone needs a place to call home. Its importance to family life, and hence society, cannot be overstated. That’s what makes today’s lack of affordable housing so troubling. The problems of many poor families are tied directly to this issue. Forget about getting ahead — high rents, taking 50 to 80% of income, make it impossible for the poor to keep from falling behind.

People come to the Joseph House Crisis Center every week with eviction notices. According to Evicted, a book by Matthew Desmond, in the 1930s the New York Times reported on evictions as newsworthy events. Now it’s a different story: evictions occur every day in communities across the country. Desmond goes on to say:

Eviction’s fallout is severe. Losing a home sends families to shelters, abandoned houses, and the street. It invites depression and illness, compels families to move into degrading housing in dangerous neighborhoods, uproots communities, and harms children. Eviction reveals people’s vulnerability and desperation, as well as their ingenuity and guts.

We see this in our work at the Joseph House, and that is why helping families hold onto their housing is a major part of our mission. “Eviction’s fallout is severe.” Imagine all of your belongings out on the street, all of your food going to waste on the sidewalk. What would you tell your children? How would you care for them? Where do you go? What do you do? These are real questions people face.

Linda was one such person desperate to avoid losing her home. She is the mother of five school-age children. For years she worked full-time to provide a stable, supportive life for them. That changed last summer when a serious car accident injured her back. Linda is still in pain and hasn’t been able to return to work.

Linda and her children live in a subdivided house on a country lane, across from a chicken farm. She has exhausted her savings in paying the rent. When an eviction notice was posted on her door, Linda needed to reach out for help. The Joseph House was there for her, and with a $200 payment to her landlord we bought Linda some time. Her application for disability benefits is under review. Getting approved is her family’s best hope for survival, at least for the time being.

Karly, 38, is also struggling to care for her family. She is a divorced mother of three children, two boys and a girl. Karly used to work, but an arthritic condition that makes her feel pain all over her body put an end to her employment. Her two sons are disabled and their combined Social Security of $1,029 monthly provides the family’s income. The rent takes 73% of that.

One day Karly realized the kitchen and bathroom sinks plus the toilet were clogged and not draining. Leaks were sprouting from the old pipes. The landlord called a plumber, who after removing the toilet extracted a child’s toy from the drain pipe. The landlord said the repairs were due to Karly’s negligence and she needed to pay the bill of $399. Otherwise, her lease would not be renewed. Since Karly did not have the money, she appealed to the Joseph House for help. We looked over her budget with her and determined that a $200 contribution would see her through this crisis. Becoming homeless would have greatly jeopardized this family’s health.

When Angelica came to see us she had no fixed address. She and her two young daughters had used up their time at a homeless shelter. Angelica’s goal was to work with children with special needs — she was waiting for her background check to be completed. We paid for several nights in a motel as well as gas for her car.

Cassidy was anxious to leave the disreputable motel where she was living with her six children. She had seen too many rats. Previously, Cassidy and her kids were homeless, living out of her car. When Cassidy found a housekeeping job, she moved everyone into the motel. But now it was time to leave.

Unfortunately, Cassidy’s job pays very little: only $450 in the first month, although her boss has promised her more hours in the near future. Nevertheless, at the moment she had practically no options. Cassidy asked for help at the Joseph House, and we paid for a better motel for her and her family. We also gave her gas for her car and bags of groceries. Shortly thereafter, Cassidy found a suitable apartment to rent. We contributed $200 toward the security deposit so she and her children could make the move into more stable housing.

The Joseph House, of course, will help with any need as long as it can be demonstrated. Rodney, 81, is disabled and cannot walk. His 31-year-old son lives with him, but he has psychiatric problems and cannot function socially. He can do simple tasks if Rodney gives him clear-cut directions. This father and son were living without heat after they ran out of propane. We paid $200 to get the tank refilled.

Many times we help people in their immediate need, and yet their lives are still so precarious. This reminds us that their road is long and hard. Thank you for all the ways you show your love for the poor. We share with you glimpses into their lives, and we are grateful you feel close enough to care about their well-being. You make our work possible.

To make a donation now, click here: Donate Online

We are approaching Holy Week, the unsurpassed teacher on the meaning of love, where actions are as eloquent as words. Let us take it all to heart and put into practice what we can learn.

You are especially close to us in prayer. May Easter shine brightly for you, filling you with the hope and promise of Christ!

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary


It is quite true that the life of Saint Joseph and of his Holy Family, as regards to the exterior, was an ordinary, modest, unassuming life, and, we may say, a life of monotonous poverty.

But what treasures of genuine peace and true joy were hidden in its interior! In this realm no one wished to be in command or give orders, but all desired from a motive of humble love rather to obey and serve one another. And where love reigns supreme, there are peace and joy, but only there.

Fr. Maurice Meschler, SJ
The Truth About Saint Joseph

Housing Needs Can’t Wait

This has been a very busy week at the Joseph House Crisis Center. More than 50 families came seeking financial assistance, many in regards to housing.

When housing needs are on the line, we can’t delay in responding – especially when the weather is cold.

A house does more than provide protection from the elements, however. It’s where family life takes root, where each member finds the stability to grow and prosper.

Studies show that stable housing leads to better parenting, better grades and less absenteeism at school, and less health problems. Stable housing creates better outcomes across the board.

When families are evicted, so much is lost.

Miranda is one person that the Joseph House was able to assist recently. Each person’s story is unique, yet there are similarities. If there’s a lesson we can draw from our experience it’s that life doesn’t always go as planned. Anyone, at anytime, might need the help of others.

Miranda had cancer surgery several weeks ago. It was successful, but unfortunately she lost her job because she wasn’t able to work during her recovery. Miranda has a ten-year-old son. She is looking for a new job, but the bills come in fast. An eviction notice soon landed at the top of the pile.

Miranda came to the Joseph House, where a volunteer spoke with her and verified her need. We sent money to the landlord, buying time for Miranda to get back on her feet. As always, we responded quickly, directly, with no red tape.

Our concern for those in need makes us aware of our blessings. It also calls us to action. The Joseph House depends entirely on the private support of people who wish to show their care and compassion for others.

If you would like to help, you can do so here: Donate Online