[Hpn] No stranger 2 plight of homeless: New Housing Council head recalls her struggles

Morgan W. Brown norsehorse@hotmail.com
Thu, 25 Jul 2002 15:48:31 -0400

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Wednesday, July 24, 2002
York Dispatch < http://www.yorkdispatch.com/dispatch>
[York, Pennsylvania]
Local News section
No stranger to plight of the homeless

New Housing Council head recalls her struggles

Dispatch/Sunday News

Sherrie Davis said she will never forget what it felt like to be homeless -- 
sleeping in her car or at friends' homes, temporarily placing her two 
children with relatives, having to shower and eat at work.

Though it was scary at the time, Davis said yesterday her six months of 
homelessness, when she was 19 and 20, helps her when working with people in 
need. It's one reason she applied to become executive director of the 
Housing Council of York.

The board approved the 43-year-old Davis' hiring in May and she began work 
June 25.

"I was as poor as I possibly could get. I really have an understanding of 
what it is like to not have a place that you can call home and to live in 
conditions that no one should live in," Davis said.

The housing council's former director, Cynthia Bair, resigned several months 
ago and agency employee Lisa Streibig served as interim director until 
Davis' appointment.

Bair resigned after York County commissioners temporarily froze $40,000 of a 
$477,000 rent-assistance contract for three months earlier this year. York 
County Human Services assistant director Bruce Funk said the county took the 
action because of missing documentation.

The county gives the council about $585,000 it receives from state and 
federal grants. The issue was resolved and the county is funding the program 

Programs: The Housing Council of York, a non-profit independent agency, 
oversees home-buyer incentive programs, assists in filing unfair-housing 
complaints, intervenes in landlord-tenant disputes and provides emergency 
rental assistance.

Davis said the agency has a $1.5 million budget, which comes from state, 
county and city agencies. About 4,500 people seek help from the council each 

"There isn't anyone out there that couldn't be in the same situation," Davis 
said. "It only takes losing one or two paychecks to end up where some people 
end up,"

Davis became homeless when she left her former husband.

"The only way I could escape was to live out of my car at that time," Davis 

She said she placed her 3-year-old daughter with her mother and her 
1-year-old son with her ex-husband, and spent six months sleeping in her car 
at a Harrisburg area truck stop or at friends' houses.

Davis said she saved money from her part-time job in a food concession stand 
at Hersheypark. The job was perfect, Davis said, because she could eat and 
shower at the park.

Her own place: About six months later, she moved into a single-room 
apartment then received counseling and legal assistance through nonprofit 

"That's one of the reasons why I wanted to give back when I started working. 
I couldn't have made it without the help of different agencies," Davis said.

Davis has more than 20 years of nonprofit experience as executive director 
of Clare House, a homeless shelter in Lancaster; campaign director of United 
Way of Lebanon County; manager of Special Olympics in Dauphin, Cumberland 
and Perry counties and part of northern York County; and development manager 
of Central Pennsylvania Legal Services, a nonprofit organization helping 
low-income people and victims of domestic abuse. She's also completed 
several courses of management training at Harrisburg Area Community College.

Davis remarried 14 years ago and has had two more children. She lives in 
Annville, Lebanon County, with her husband and 19-year old daughter.


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-------End of forward-------

Morgan <norsehorse@hotmail.com>
Morgan W. Brown
Montpelier Vermont USA

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