Housing
Health Care
Education
Economic Development
Community and Faith-based Orgs.
 

Housing

Projecto HOGAR
HOGAR is expanding preventative health care in Laredo TX by addressing housing issues.

Mercy Court and Health Education
Health and housing unite at this Phoenix apartment complex.

Project Home
A faith-based community development organization is trying to break the poverty cycle in its north central Philadelphia neighborhood.



Projecto HOGAR (Housing Opportunities Growth and Rehabilitation), Laredo, TX

Partners:

  • HOGAR
  • Mercy Regional Medical Center

Photo Credit: Projecto Fe e EsperanzaImagine that you're living with your mom and eight siblings in a one room house that has no bathroom or kitchen. Or that you're a pregnant mother of five living in a camping trailer and your husband has deserted you. These two situations really did exist in Laredo, Texas, until a novel health care partnership found a way to solve them.

Along the Texas border, the link between health care and housing is dramatic. Densely populated "colonias" lack even elementary water and septic systems. Flies and insects easily maneuver ill fitting windows and doors. In 1992, Mercy Regional Medical Center established HOGAR to expand preventive healthcare and strengthen nearby communities by addressing housing issues.

Since then, HOGAR, with its four-person staff coordinated by a Sister of Mercy experienced in home repair, has helped more than 50 families learn repair skills, construct additions to their homes, install septic systems, maintain water tanks, build and repair doors and screens and become more skilled and confident homeowners.

Mercy Regional Medical Center underwrites HOGAR staff salaries and buys building supplies. HOGAR solicits donations of materials, negotiates purchase prices and recycles building supplies whenever possible. Homeowners pay for supplies and services according to their income level. HOGAR accepts home repair referrals from Mercy, from the Health Department of Webb County and from two Laredo school districts.

HOGAR's link with health care is also carried out through a collaboration with the Mercy Regional Medical Center's mobile van and with the Health Department. The collaboration conducts classes in how to ensure a clean water supply and complete basic home repairs.

HOGAR offers suggestions to homeowners about needed repairs. It then works with the owners to help carry out the chosen repairs. Finishing touches-painting, wallpapering or tiling a floor-are completed by homeowners with minimal oversight from HOGAR.

"What we do may seem insignificant to an outsider," says HOGAR Coordinator Christine Blair, RSM. "But every person we work with learns skills and gains confidence in their ability to make a difference in their homes and their lives. That makes us all healthier."

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Mercy Court and Health Education, Phoenix, AZ

Partners:
  • Mercy Housing Arizona
  • Mercy Health Care, a Division of Catholic Healthcare West
  • City of Phoenix Police Department
  • St. Simon & Jude Parish
  • Cordova School District
  • Cordova Neighborhood Association

Health care seemed the least of the problems at Mercy Court in 1995, when Mercy Housing Arizona put together a complex financing package to buy the 125-unit apartment building from the Resolution Trust Corporation. Crime-ridden and badly in need of renovation, the complex had been written off as unsalvageable. But when Mercy Housing Arizona assumed ownership and management, the turnaround came quickly.

A resident manager moved in and made the rounds of apartments, introducing herself, distributing tenant handbooks, and explaining the new procedures for the laundry and pool. Contractors began installing lighting, fencing, playgrounds for the 280 children at Mercy Court and a community center.

As the new owners became acquainted with the residents, they learned that 111 families had no health insurance, even though most were working full time. So they put in place a health education program at Mercy Court with financial support from Mercy Health Care and other support from St. Simon and Jude Parish, City of Phoenix Police Department, Cordova School District, and the Cordova Neighborhood Association.

Mercy Health Care agreed to provide case manager services and professional staffing for health seminars and classes at the Mercy Court community center. It also immunizes children and refers those who need additional care to the appropriate providers. A mobile clinic sponsored by Mercy Health Care visits the apartment complex twice a month and supplies VCRs and videos on self-help and preventive care.

Today "health" at Mercy Court has more dimensions than simply physical wellness. Police sponsor classes for children on bicycle safety and prevention of drug abuse or gang membership. For adults, there's a Neighborhood Watch program that has helped eradicate crime at Mercy Court, down from 200 incidents reported annually before residents embraced community policing. Two major health fairs are sponsored at Mercy Court each year, as well as an ongoing healthy adult program and classes on nutrition, budgeting, parenting and homeownership.

Today, Mercy Court is designing health care outreach for adjoining neighborhoods.

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Project Home: Philadelphia, PA

Photo Credit: Joanna Lightner Community development corporations (CDCs) are a proven vehicle for building healthier communities. Now numbering in the thousands nationwide, CDCs develop housing, assist businesses and provide a range of social services for ailing neighborhoods. CDCs are particularly adept drawing in resources from public, private and foundation sources to support revitalization.

Project HOME is a CDC started by Mercy Sister Mary Scullion to break the cycle of homelessness and poverty in a distressed neighborhood in north central Philadelphia. Project HOME targets its activities around St. Elizabeth's Roman Catholic Church and school, which closed in 1994.

The CDC has turned the former St. Elizabeth rectory into a thriving community center, offering classes ranging from aerobics to computers. The center supports an afterschool program, a drill team, seniors programs, health services and an intensive counseling program for first time homebuyers.

Project HOME - an acronym for Housing, Opportunities, Medical care and Education -converted the convent at St. Elizabeth's into single room occupancy units for 25 men undergoing drug rehabilitation. And it's renovated four abandoned houses for sale to low and moderate income families. But Project HOME has much bigger plans.

The CDC is participating in a novel citywide program which awards tax incentives to private corporations that commit to longterm partnerships with local CDCs. The Crown Cork and Seal Company is Project HOME's partner. The international can manufacturer is providing $2.5 million over 10 years to help Project HOME revitalize its neighborhood. The money helped to finance the community center at St. Elizabeth's -- and another on nearby Diamond Street. The company's contribution will also enable Project Home to renovate 100 neighborhood homes for sale to first time homebuyers.

To attract businesses to the community, Project HOME is focusing on trash clean up, graffiti removal, security and storefront façade renovations.

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