THE BLOG
04/06/2011 05:36 pm ET Updated Jun 06, 2011

Rising Foreclosures, Homelessness and the Women Who Need Our Help

Although there are several positive signs that true economic recovery has begun in our country, many Americans are still suffering from the impact of this Great Recession. Companies large and small are facing diminishing revenues, resulting in layoffs and swelling unemployment rolls. Foreclosure inventories have risen above 2 million, with no end yet in sight. State and federal leaders are facing enormous budget deficits, resulting in severe cuts to programs that serve as critical safety nets for those who were already struggling to make ends meet.

Faced with these multiple crises, many are being forced into homelessness. With less funding available for human services, and fewer places to turn to for shelter and the tools for personal recovery, more of our homeless are forced to survive on the streets. And homeless women -- who are at the greatest risk of violence and victimization on the streets -- are most in need of safe housing and comprehensive support services.

In Washington, D.C., where women represent 26 percent of the homeless population, this "wraparound" model of housing plus support services for homeless women is being proven effective by organizations like N Street Village.

N Street Village is an award-winning organization with an exemplary model of care, a 360-degree approach to not only get its clients off the streets, but to give them the tools they need to make lasting positive change in their lives. It does this by providing a full spectrum of services at one location -- from essentials like meals, showers, laundry and phone access, to more intensive services that include mental health and addiction programs, shelter, and transitional and permanent supportive housing. There's even a wellness center offering primary care and other health management and disease prevention services.

Most importantly, N Street Village offers a safe place for women in need -- not just in the literal sense but also by providing women with a safe emotional space where they can share their pains, struggles and accomplishments without judgment or rejection. It is in the creation of this purposeful community of consistent respect and mutual support that N Street Village truly shines.

The innovative methods pioneered by N Street Village are effective. The successes of its clients range from improvements in housing, health, employment, income and sobriety to increased self-esteem, expanded positive support networks and community integration.

As a community leader, N Street Village also leverages connections with local universities, health clinics and other area nonprofits. By doing so, they are able to marshal resources which ensure that their unique and first-class care is available to hundreds of women each year who are faced with with the multitude of challenges related to homelessness and poverty. The fact that they openly collaborate and share their best practices is testament to their broader goal of enhancing quality of life and affecting true change for homeless and low-income women.

In a time of shrinking resources and dire need, N Street Village serves as an example of a promising program offering integrated housing and health services for the homeless, and is a national model for effective services -- and compassionate community -- for vulnerable women.