Marian House

By Milena Rampoldi, ProMosaik. In the following our interview with the Marian House. We talked to Meghan Montone to understand how Marian House promotes women’s independence and reinclusion. Homelessness is more than being without a house. It is the result of a deep trauma.  
What are the main problems that homeless women need to face in order to be reintegrated into society?
Being homeless does not mean just being without a house because a house is not necesiarily a “home” which is more than just a phyisical place and provides a sense of safety, a feeling of freedom, and the ability to be oneself. The first problem to be overcome for reintegration into society therefore involves establishing a set of social connections such as work, friendships, and other activities. Doing so is, however, not so easy because those concerned often have extensive histories of trauma — that apart from being homeless — also include sexual violence; chronic mental illness; and chronic substance abuse.
What are the most common prejudices about the homeless that your organization has to deal with?
They include the mistaken assumption that homeless women are unable to change their lives; lack the necessary will to actually work and become productive members of society; and that homeless women are in any case inevitably uneducated or unskilled.
Have you over time developed a strategy that can be considered as being really effective in addressing the social inclusion of women who used to be homeless? 
Our program functions as a therapeutic community with structured curfews, chores, and community dinners; programming with mental health treatment, addictions counseling, and case management; and providing love within a family environment that values the dignity of residents with the celebration of birthdays and holidays, and the provision of a clean and comfortable home setting.
Do you cooperate with local authorities and institutions? If yes, how? 
We do by making referrals to many community organisations for a variety of services that for example include medical care and parenting classes. We also liaise with criminal justice authorities and other organisations on behalf of our residents.
Do you think that institutions and policy makers could act in order to prevent this issue? If yes, how? 
Most homelessness problems are related to systemic issues, so elimination of homelessness necessitates a systemic response. This would include prevention of childhood trauma; support for struggling families; easy access to quality medical/mental health/substance use treatment; access to affordable and safe housing; improvement of public schools; and improved neighborhoods that have a community spirit and are safe.