They say, “Home is where your heart is.” But, when faced with homelessness, that old cliché can take on new meaning. That is why the Ebenezer Foundation and staff from the Ebenezer Tower Apartments are working together to help many previously long-term homeless seniors find a more permanent place to call home within their walls.
Residents like Eli Hall know just what a difference that help can make.
After a conflux of circumstances left the 63-year-old veteran on the street, Eli spent nine months living in a shelter. During his time there, he suffered two strokes and had to manage a variety of health challenges. “Being humbled is no picnic,” says Eli. “When I was in the shelter, I was depressed and down. It was truly a miserable life.”
Fortunately, Eli, working with his caseworker, found permanent housing at the Tower Apartments. Now he takes advantage of his downtown residence by enjoying walks outside and access to area parks. “I am so full of joy now,” he says.
At least one-third of the Minneapolis complex’s 192 apartments are inhabited by residents who have experienced homelessness in the past. As a designated senior housing facility, the Tower Apartments serves primarily individuals over age 62. Residential candidates come to the facility through a variety of programs and referral agencies, but nearly all have the same goal—to find a more permanent dwelling.
“So many great organizations focus on temporary housing,” says Peggy Schulte, housing manager at Ebenezer Tower Apartments. “But our goal is really to provide a permanent home for folks until they need a different level of care.”
To accomplish this, the Tower Apartment staff provide a variety of support services. One such resource is resident services coordinator, Joanie Lennick. Joanie meets with residents to assess their needs and to connect them with support services.
“We’ve found that these individuals really need an advocate, whether it is me or their care team—they need someone to make sure they are getting the services that they need and that these services are customized to the individual,” says Joanie.
To provide a broad range of resources for residents, Joanie also maintains partnerships with several community relief organizations. “We have a food a bank that makes monthly deliveries, regular drop-offs from Mom Meals and Meals on Wheels and a relationship with students at Augsburg College to have community meals prepared each Friday.”
In addition, Tower Apartments residents can take advantage of community groups, exercise programs and art and music classes, all offered free of charge through Ebenezer’s lifelong learning initiative.
Together, these amenities do more than just provide shelter—they provide a home.