“I never thought I’d be the person sitting with my stuff on the park bench being stared at.”
That’s what our client, Alexandra, told staff days into her stay at Hospitality House. She said that when someone approached her in a local park and asked what business she had there, Alexandra didn’t even know they were speaking to her because she didn’t “look” homeless with only a backpack and a few essentials.
Following separation from her partner and attempting to pay off debt, Alexandra found herself experiencing homelessness for the first time. Alexandra explained to staff that after her experience in the park, she realized that she was holding onto stigmas surrounding homelessness.
Many people have an idea of what homelessness can look like. There’re actually quite a few options around for a “drunk beggar,” “hobo,” or “bum man/woman” Halloween costume, which just reinforce the idea that you can identify who is experiencing homelessness by looking at them. If you saw one of our clients outside of Hospitality House, you’d never know they were experiencing homelessness. They have jobs as a desk worker at a hotel, an intern at a holistic wellness center, a nanny. They wear name brand clothes and own cars. Alexandra was enrolled in college classes during her entire time at Hospitality House, had a gym membership, and participated in a work study program through school-not exactly fitting the idea of a “bum woman” Halloween costume.
Alexandra stayed at Hospitality House until she found a two-year transitional housing program that has a special focus on students and women re-entering the workforce. Before leaving HH, Alexandra said her time here reshaped her understanding of homelessness and those who are working through it. Homelessness doesn’t have a certain look, and it doesn’t care what you’ve accomplished in life, or what you’re working toward-it can affect anyone, at any age, at any time. Hospitality House is here to meet residents like Alexandra where they are and help them find their footing and prepare them to thrive!