Being without a home or shelter is unfathomable to some people. Yet, it continues to be a pressing issue right here in Northern Berkshire county. Organizations like the Louison House are helping to address this issue.
“We’re constantly have a waiting list, which speaks sadly to the volume and the need in the county,” says Maureen Clark, Services Coordinator. “And in Northern Berkshire country, besides Pittsfield, we’re it.”
Louison House is at higher demand to the residents coming from the now closed shelter after the 2016 closing of Turner House in Williamstown. Turner House serviced veterans.
Adorning the walls of the offices of the House are inspirational phrases and words. They are aimed at encouraging the residents to continue to work on achieving the goals they set. Louison House encourages achieved stability as well as assurance to the residents.
“We are obviously very excited on our ‘chaotic move-out days,’” says Clark. “But we tell our residents that even though they’re moving on, the door is not permanently closed to them, it’s always open.”
Louison House transitioned from their building in Adams to Flood House in North Adams after a fire in June 2016. With aid from the community and loans from the Department of Housing and Community Development the Louison House is preparing for restoration. The original Adams house will see a return in 2018. The Flood House will see a future as a second set of apartments and offices.
“There were things that needed to be done [at the Adams house] before the fire happened, so we have to have those things done before we can go back in,” said Kathy Kesser, Executive Director, in a Berkshire Eagle article in after the fire.
It is 2017 and there is still a stigma surrounding homelessness, something the Lousion House attempts to change.
“When people think of ‘homelessness’ they think of a man sitting on the corner asking for money,” explains Clark. “Your person who is homeless today is not just that typical image anymore.”
Clark explains that homelessness in North Adams is not like in the movies or even in cities like New York City and Boston.
“A person can have a car and children, and be employed, contributing that way,” says Clark. “But there is that one disconnect where they can only make what they make stretch so far and housing it expensive.”
According to the AreaVibes website, housing in North Adams is $600 for rent and $158,400 for a house on average.
Clark explains that many homeless people are employed, and many have children. This make it extremely difficult to make a job that pays minimum wage support housing.
“Even if you do have a job and it’s just yourself, it’s difficult to pay for rent, utilities, groceries,” says Clark. “We’re here to provide any support to those who need it.”
Louison House has provided homelessness prevention and housing services to over 3,500 individuals and families throughout Berkshire County.
“The image of a homeless person has changed,” says Clark. “They can wear nice clothes from donations, they can drive a car, look put together and be hanging on by a thread.
For more information on the Louison House, visit louisonhouse.org or call 413-663-6323.