When I hear the words.. profound impact.. I think of Mercy Housing and how it is providing affordable housing to thousands of Americans who don’t make enough money to be able to pay the high cost of rent.
Since Mercy Housing was founded 35 years ago, it has set out to create a more humane world where poverty is alleviated, communities are healthy and all people can develop their full potential.
Mercy Housing has grown to become one of the top non-profit affordable housing providers by developing, preserving and financing 54,000 affordable homes across the United States. Low-income families, senior citizens, veterans and adult with special needs are among those who call Mercy Housing home.
The Sisters of Mercy found Mercy Housing. The sisters first focus on philanthropy was helping the sick. The first Mercy hospital in the United States open in 1847. Mercy is now one of the top health systems in the nation.
In the early 1980s, Sister Timothy Marie O’Roark, a Sister of Mercy of Omaha, worked with families facing eviction from their homes. She told her fellow sisters: “We can do better.” From there, Mercy Housing was formed.
“The sisters wanted this to be a concrete, organized response to housing justice for the poor,” former Mercy Housing President & CEO Sister Lillian Murphy, RSM said.
Sister Lillian Murphy led Mercy Housing for 27 years until she retired in 2014. During her tenure, Mercy Housing communities added medical and social services to help its residents.
“Before I started working at Mercy Housing, I was a hospital administrator with little knowledge of affordable housing,” Sister Lillian Murphy said. “When I joined Mercy Housing, I started thinking ‘this is health care… not the kind of care we were doing in a medical setting.. but this is health care.’ Providing stability is fundamental health care.”
Mercy Housing provides a wide range of services at its communities from health care navigation to parenting classes.. support for overcoming addiction to financial literacy classes.. access to food from local food banks to how to prepare meals that are healthy.
Mercy Housing has formed strong local and national partnerships to help those who are most vulnerable turn their lives around.
“Working with the Mercy Housing staff, the leadership and board members has been inspirational,” national affordable housing advocate Barry Zigas said. Zigas has served on the Mercy Housing board for multiple terms. He along with Sister Lillian Murphy were recognized for their service and impact on Mercy Housing at the organization’s 35th Anniversary dinner in October 2017.
“Mercy Housing is one of those pivotal things in life because you need a home,” former Mercy Housing resident Ginger said. “You need to be stable in that way. You need a place to study. You need a place have your baby be safe. Having a place to live allowed me to reach my goals and break out of poverty.” Ginger now shares a home with her husband. Her now-8 year old daughter is getting excited for the arrival of a baby sister in 2018.
“I’ve come so far over the last year,” former homeless Army veteran George said. “Without Mercy housing providing this space for me, I probably wouldn’t be alive right now. Mercy Housing is helping us vets get off the street and get a life.”
“I’m in a better place because of Mercy Housing,” single mother Brandie said. “Mercy Housing allows people to truly have a foundation, have a home.. somewhere to come home to, be stress-free, provide for their kids, have time for their kids. It allows people to live.”
Mercy Housing realizes much more work needs to be done when millions of Americas struggle every day with what’s more important for their families.. food, health care or shelter. Mercy Housing pledges to stay focused on providing people with the security and stability that comes with a home.. and with that home, there is hope.
Home is Hope!