Launched in the fall of 2021, HOME is a charitable organisation with one goal: To end homelessness in Bermuda. With a focus on grassroots and community support the charity hopes to make sure that everyone has a place to call home.

Executive director Denise Carey began work at the charity merely hoping to give some support to those who needed it but found much meaning in the work she was doing that she stayed on. I love my community and I love giving back,” she says. “When the opportunity was presented to me, I knew my answer was going to be ‘yes!’ I’m really motivated by the fact that our island is going to work together to make sure that no one is going to live outside.”

“The population of individuals without homes] is predominantly black men and as a mother I want to do my part to make sure that other people’s sons and loved ones get the support that I give to my child.”

HOME identifies, registers and seeks to secure housing and bedding for people in need. They also provide short-term services, including temporary accommodation, and meals for the community. In addition, HOME aims to help the individuals whom they house maintain their homes long-term. This can include financial support, mental health or substance abuse treatment, academic support, securing identification and other needs. Importantly, HOME assesses the specific needs of individuals according to their particular situation. “The whole system of securing a home has everyone working independently of the other so it really requires heavy lifting from someone who is already in a state of need; oftentimes they can’t check all the boxes, so we are here to support them.” Many of the people HOME has helped have been homeless for ten to thirty-plus years and so for them living inside is a new experience.

The charity has further shown its commitment to keeping the formerly homeless from going back on the streets by employing many of them. In fact, over half of the employees at HOME are people whom they have aided. “We provide them with training, and they are here to help us with operations and are paid to do that. This allows them to work towards their own financial security. As well, they are now giving back to other homeless people who are in the same situation they were in three to six months ago.”

Carey’s experiences with HOME have led her to engage with the homeless in a more thoughtful manner than previously. “When I thought about the face of homelessness, I only thought of them as the guys on Front Street but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Individuals in the homeless community are well read, they work well with technology, have skills in various trades and take care of one another.” These people who have been so easily ignored, she says, are just as human as anyone else. “They are looking for opportunities. Some of them have criminal records or issues with finances and breakdowns in relationships with significant others and have ended up with nothing. I use the word “nothing” carefully though because what they still have is hope and resilience, but beyond that they need opportunity and if I could ask the community for one thing it’s to give them that opportunity.”

HOME’s first year has shown steady progress. Carey states that they have been embraced by the wider community and have already seen volunteers from schools, which she believes will encourage younger generations to help. Above all, though, she is pleased with the progress those in their care have made.