Horizon House connects life changing opportunities with people battling homelessness

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INDIANAPOLIS — It’s hard to walk by area businesses without seeing a “Help Wanted” or “Now Hiring” sign.

Despite the numerous vacancies, organizers with Horizon House say barriers often block opportunities for those living through homelessness.

“One of the common barriers is lack of two forms of ID, so not having an ID, and then birth certificate or social security card,” said Employment Coordinator Alysa McManus, “and so our staff, our case managers are able to help the neighbors secure that identification.”

McManus says other barriers they see include lack of transportation and clean clothes, a criminal background or mental health issues.

Part of Horizon House’s mission is to meet people where they are.

Inside their facility, on East Washington Street, is a one-stop shop for people needing help along the right path. Clients have access to computer labs, shower/laundry space, clean clothes, mental health resources and case management needs.

“Someone could literally come in, take a shower, do their laundry, apply for a job, do an employment workshop, all within a couple of hours here on site,” McManus said.

The facility also houses a job readiness workshop, which teaches professional and interview skills to help clients get and retain jobs. So far, this year, 71 people have completed the program.

“If they complete that, we’re able to help them with bus passes for interviews and for new employment,” McManus said. “For clothing, we offer laundry on site, so that they can keep their clothes clean, and we also have clothing for work available to them.”

Along with clean clothes and transportation, organizers also help clients prepare for job seeking by providing work-related items. They say something as simple as a backpack, or folder, can get them one step closer.

“A lot of our neighbors use grocery sacks,” McManus said. “Well, you may feel a little embarrassed to do that when you’re going to work. So a backpack is a much more dignifying way, and more professional way, to go to and from work and to still keep your belongings safe with you.”

Thanks to Horizon House and its partnerships with area employers, they’ve been able to help fill 85 job positions this year. By helping people secure, and retain, employment, organizers say it helps them along the right path instead of turning to crime or re-entry to the system.

“We know that it is very encouraging for folks, if they know that they have a reliable source of income to help them, to have another path to choose,” said Development and Communications Director Marcie Luhigo. “So the recidivism is higher for those folks who don’t connect to employment.”

“We partner with employers that are willing to work with people that have been justice involved,” McManus added, “and we’re able to connect our neighbors to that employment and advocate that even if you have a criminal history, you are still worthy of a good job opportunity.”

Most job opportunities through Horizon House’s network of employers include the manufacturing and warehouse industry. There’s also opportunities in customer service, janitorial work and the restaurant industry.

Horizon House is always looking for more employers to add to the roster, if you’re interested in connecting your business, email: alysam@horizonhouse.cc.

Organizers are also collecting donations for clients to help prepare them for jobs. A variety of items can be found on the wish list, including backpacks, work boots, toiletries and other items.

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