Karen Terry graduated from Rushville High School and Western Illinois University before leaving the area to work and volunteer for social service agencies in cities such as Chicago, New York, and Atlanta. Now she is back in Macomb to serve as the Community Re-Housing Navigator for Genesis Garden.
“Basically, my job entails reaching out to the community and connecting with people who are struggling with homelessness or maybe housing crisis situations. I do a holistic approach to finding services for those individuals,” Terry said.
“Once I get them into the (Rapid Re-Housing) program, we can assist them with things like security deposits, first month’s rent, (and) any fees associated with getting them into permanent housing."
She said Genesis Garden has secured more than $125,000 from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to help establish the program.
Terry said HUD recommends getting the people in such programs into their own homes within 90 days. She said Genesis Garden is striving to accomplish that within 60 days.
Genesis House, which is the emergency shelter at 307 East Carroll Street in downtown Macomb, recently re-opened after being closed for approximately a year due to the COVID-19 crisis, though it’s operating at reduced capacity because of the pandemic.
Terry said some clients are referred to Genesis Garden while others learn about the organization and its programs through the Genesis Garden website. In addition, Terry said she engages in what is called “street outreach.”
“I go around town where I know that people who are struggling with chronic homelessness would be located at. There are several places around town that we have recognized as places where people who are struggling in that aspect tend to stay around,” she said.
Terry said she also reaches out to landlords to let them know about the program. “They have empty units. They want those rented. We can help find those individuals that are going to be good tenants (but) are just going through a crisis at this time.”
She emphasized Genesis Garden does not provide financial assistance for people who are behind on their rent. She said the Western Illinois Regional Council receives federal funding to help with those types of crises.
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