September 18, 2018
Plymouth Healing Communities (PHC) is a Plymouth Church ministry of rebuilding lives. As their Companionship Fundraiser and Luncheon approaches, noon, Sunday, September 30, the folks at PHC are quick to express their gratitude for support given by Plymouth congregation to make this ministry possible. “We could not do it without you!” Remarkably, 95% of residents who leave the House of Healing exit into permanent housing. The lives that have been touched and the community that has developed is immeasurable. At the luncheon, hear stories from residents and staff, celebrate success and join PHC in their journey to help those who live with mental illness and experience homelessness here in Seattle.
In a recent conversation with PHC’s Interim Executive Director Catherine Walker, she shared her commitment to the work that began nearly 20 years ago as an idea imagined by a handful of Plymouth Church members. A retired lawyer, long-time PHC Board Member and founding volunteer, Walker stepped in last year as full-time Interim E.D. Under Catherine’s guidance, the organization has upgraded technology, streamlined Housing and Urban Development (HUD) processes and expanded services to residents.
“Because we are non-profit with an intense focus on residents, PHC’s rents have not gone up by 40% as some subsidized Seattle housing has,” she says. “The rent subsidy programs ensure that low-income residents pay no more than 30% of their income for rent. Because of escalating rents and operating costs, those subsidies don’t go as far today as even a few years ago. PHC has multiple income sources, and each requires different compliance reporting. It’s complex. And it’s all worth it because we know that 47 individuals are safe tonight and every night, in a PHC home, with community. We want to do what it takes to sustain PHC and do it right.”
Walker points out that the original House of Healing (HOH) model includes housing plus companioning with both staff and volunteers. “The house has intentional, regular transitions in both residents and companions. Most companions stay for one year, and they have an emotionally intense role. We honor and celebrate each one.”
Starting in spring, 2019, Eng House, located next door to HOH, will provide permanent housing for seven more residents and one companion. PHC is poised to help even more individuals along the path toward healing.
Social isolation is a major barrier to housing stability and recovery for persons with mental illness. “Having good quality housing and intentional community help our residents with a sense of belonging. We underestimate how strong the human need is to belong, to know and feel connection to others. PHC attempts to respond to that need with a circle of care for each resident,” says Walker. “I want to emphasize to our donors how directly and positively their contributions impact the lives of individuals for whom simply navigating daily life often presents major challenges. I give my time and dollars to PHC because I see first-hand the transformative effect of what we do.” –Janice Randall