The Bridge is the first rural transitional housing for women and children who are homeless or near homeless in the rural counties (Sioux, Plymouth, Osceola, O'Brien, Lyon) of northwest Iowa. The Bridge was created to meet a gap in services in this service area. The Bridge is a non-profit, faith-based transitional living program for women and children (age 12 and under) who have experienced poverty, domestic violence, and homelessness. Residents can stay at The Bridge for up to 24 months.
The facility has six private bedrooms, three with private shower and three with common shower/bath. The rooms vary in size to meet a variety of family demographics. The Bridge is physically located only two blocks from downtown in the Orange City Health System downtown campus building. The Bridge has one wing of bedrooms with community areas: kitchen/dining area, playroom, group room, living room, laundry room, large hallways, staff room, and storage rooms.
Prior to The Bridge, Northwest Iowa rural women facing unemployment, under-employment, and/or domestic violence were left with either moving to a nearby metropolitan city to receive transitional housing services or "couch-hopping" between family and friends. The threat of having one's "heat and utility turned off" or the fear of returning to an abusive partner after completing a stay at a nearby emergency domestic violence shelter is the plight of many rural women. The near homeless go virtually unseen in a rural area. They are unlikely to be found in the town center park or under via-ducts, but rather to live on a mercy of others to provide a room or couch. The Bridge provides a safe haven and the time to explore and pursue her own self-sufficiency plan.
The Bridge serves a five county region: Sioux, Plymouth, Lyon, Osceola, O'Brien. Women must have residency in one of the five counties, show proof of previous residence, or explain why she prefers to permanently relocate to northwest Iowa. The geographic area is comprised of mostly small towns (ranging from 200-10,000 population) with large vast areas of farmland in-between. The reality of rural areas is a strong committed communities coupled with reduced social service provision. The Bridge seeks to close the gap in housing needs for the area.
The targeted population is women and women with children ages 12 and under who are moderate to low-income individuals. Typically, women who participate have had:
The Bridge can serve up to twenty women and children at any given time. Stated reasons for homelessness might include: