House of Hope expands to reach more families - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

House of Hope expands to reach more families

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A Cedar Valley program, which aims to restore hope in the lives of homeless single mothers, is expanding their reach.

The House of Hope plans to move into their new building, located at 845 W. Fourth St, in March. The building, which used to serve as a dental practice, came as a generous donation from the Christensen family in 2015. 

House of Hope's Executive Director Karin Rowe says the move came from their constant waiting list. 

"Our waiting list has consistently been 40 families," said Rowe. "That's 40 families that have really been struggling for a long time. And want that hand up to be able to support their families, to be able to stand on their own two feet."

Rowe says the new space will allow them to accommodate more families. 

The current construction zone has seen a lot of work over the past couple of months. 

"We've just had an army of people in here just taking stuff out, tearing down walls, tearing out all of the old electrical work, plumbing," said Rowe. 

The walls will soon house 15 families, which is more than their current location along Walnut St. Although the space may be changing, the support system the House of Hope provides, will certainly not. 

"I's the support system around them everyday to say 'No I know that was hard, that was tough, but we're gonna get back up, we're gonna stand back up on our feet and and we're gonna go out there and do it again,'" said Rowe.  "And sometimes just those words of 'You can do it' mean a lifetime of change for somebody."

Those words: "You can do it," made a world of difference for June Kerns.

"I was a single mom, and she didn't have a father so it was just me," said Kerns. "And if it wasn't for the House of Hope living down the street from Expo, I would've never graduated high school, I would've never, never-I don't know what would've happened."

Kerns leaned on the House of Hope not just once, but twice. 

"My husband got sick, and he passed away, and the House of Hope actually took me in again, for the second time," said Kerns. 

The House of Hope's current home for families at 222 Walnut St, will soon be demolished. The city plans on converting the space into a local grocery store. 

The agency also has big plans for their current office, located at 306 Walnut St. Rowe says they plan to convert the space into a prevention program for young women aging out of foster care. 

"We find that to be the highest risk of becoming a homeless single mother," said Rowe. "Stats show 71% of these ladies are pregnant by the time they're 21. And 20% are homeless the day they age out. 80% by the time they're 24 have experienced homelessness."

Rowe shares that the statistics show 3 out of 4 of young girls aging out of foster care will be pregnant by the time they're 21. With this new prevention program, they're hoping to change that. 

"If we can support these young ladies before they get there- If we can teach them the skills that they need to be able to stand on their own two feet before they end up with that struggle," said Rowe. "With you know getting stuck in that cycle of homelessness, then we are able to still provide the same mission that we started with-without all the heartache and the hurt that's happening beforehand."

So far, they've raised $1.5 million, but are still looking to raise $400,000 for the project. The agency is accepting donations, including furniture for the new apartments. Rowe says they're looking for any volunteers willing to help in the demolition process. For more information, contact the House of Hope

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