Some articles are easier to write than others. This one was a bit tougher. There are sad, scary, and dangerous situations in this world that any of us can find ourselves in. There are times in crisis where any of us can feel alone and helpless. In escalated situations, some may have nowhere to go to feel safe. None of this is easy to write about, albeit important.
But where there is darkness, most often, there is also light. New Horizons and New Beginnings, a non-profit located in Two Harbors, is a bright beacon of hope for those in need.
North Shore Horizons was born from a dream of the executive director and the board of directors to provide housing specific to assist victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. It was formed in 1980 and received the non-profit status in 1981. At that time, in order to offer subsidized housing, there were some rules for Section 8 that wouldn’t allow for the organization to be specific to only victims of domestic violence.
The focus shifted to assisting with long-term homelessness (which can go hand in hand with domestic violence and sexual assault), but North Shore Horizons was not just a place to stay. There was a component that included supportive housing services. By providing case management, residents of North Shore Horizons were able to take part in educational programs, including training to find employment, to become more independent.
Then, about four years ago, domestic violence agencies were restricted from using the HUD database to offer services because it was federally determined not secure enough to keep abusers from finding the victim. A new database was created to be more secure, but the initial cost to use the database is $20,000 and the yearly subscription is $10,000. For large organizations, this cost may be more realistic, but for North Shore Horizons, the six units wouldn’t cover the costs.
Restructuring the acceptance program allowed for the organization to keep the housing available to those who are more regional, not just the first person on the list for HUD. People who have local ties also have the potential to have more of a social support system in the area. “We know we’re more successful working with those who have other connections within the community,” said Jean Sewell, Executive Director of North Shore Horizons.
North Shore Horizons charges 30% of resident’s income for rent and other funding comes from the community and local foundations who “keep the lights on and the water running,” according to Jean.
With all the changes, some things remain the same. The amount of assistance provided to the residents helps to ensure they are supported holistically. The New Beginnings program is a requirement to stay at North Shore Horizons. Kate Cobbs, New Beginnings Program Lead, described the three-part program to me.
The first piece is a weekly meeting with their case manager (usually Kate), to go over goals, wants, and needs. Some residents may need assistance with employment or securing a vehicle. The second part of the program is a support group that meets weekly (Wednesdays at 6 PM). This meeting is open to the public. “We love to have as many people who can fit in our conference room. More people make a better group. It’s called Stronger Together, and it’s for anyone who has experienced harm in a relationship,” said Kate.(Note: The North Shore Horizons building is completely secure. Guests need to have a background check.)
The third part of the program is periodic educational classes. One example is a job skills clinic where residents learned about resumes, applications, and what to wear to an interview. Classes are tailored to assist in building confidence and gaining independence. There is also assistance for victims to file restraining orders, arrange supervised visitation, zoom hearings, and more than I can mention here.
The staff of the program is small (and mighty), and volunteers are always appreciated. As the units are fully furnished, household items are also greatly appreciated. In this post(ish) covid world, support to the organization is especially needed. I was surprised to learn that there was a decrease in those reaching out for help during the pandemic, perhaps because there wasn’t a safe time to do so. “Everyone is getting back to normalcy and ready to make changes they want to make in their lives,” said Jean.
As I went over all the good things that North Shore Horizons and New Beginnings do for the community, I was able to get rolling on the writing of this piece. Jean and Kate’s passion for helping people and for the program was uplifting and inspiring. If you would like to learn more, reach out to volunteer, or donate, visit northshorehorizons.org or the org’s Facebook Page. You can also call Kate at 218-834-5924.
Thank you to Jean and Kate for their time and for all they do for those in need!
Feel free to reach out to me at email@example.com with any news we can news about!