What Makes a House a Home

home /hōm/ noun – the place where one lives permanently, especially as a member of a family or household.

By the time I was 9 years old, my family had lived in seven different houses in three different states on two coasts. To this day, when people ask me where I grew up, or where I am from, I don’t really know how to answer their question so I just say, “I was born in California but I lived all over the place.”

The meaning of Home is surely different for everyone. A quick google search of “what makes a house a home” reveals this to be true, returning over 2.5 billion responses. Experts in the design world say making a house a home can be accomplished by adding design elements to your rooms; adding candles and meaningful photos, hanging art or placing throw blankets around seating areas. Life and style experts explain that home embodies how we live and see ourselves, and creating a home requires deep reflection and thoughtful choices. But as a seven year old, I never deeply reflected and made thoughtful choices regarding why my house was my home, it just was. Pottery Barn suggests a home is a healthy, relaxing space.

While I don’t believe a home requires fancy bed linens and $280 throw blankets to be healthy and relaxing, I have to admit that I really like the way Pottery Barn defines a home; a healthy, relaxing space.

When I try to remember some of the houses that have served as my home, I can’t remember the placement of the walls, the furniture, or the location of my bedrooms. But the memories I can recall are fundamental parts of my childhood; family gatherings around the dining table for the holidays, the smell of dinner as my dad cooked in the kitchen, doing crafts with my mom in our craft room, the pools where my brother and I swam for hours every day every summer, our four legged friends, and the love and comfort of feeling at home. Everywhere we laid our heads at night, no matter where we happened to be living at the time, it was in a healthy and relaxing space, made so by the people who occupied it.

Being a parent myself now, I realize how dependent my children are on my husband and me to be happy, healthy, and secure. For our family, home is a place to retreat to and recover from what the day handed out; be it a tough day at work for my husband or a stubbed toe for our three year old. Our home is a place of stability and safety.

My mom and stepdad’s house and literally everything they owned burned to the ground last year.  It was devastating and horribly unsettling for them; suddenly, they were homeless.

The things they were most upset to have lost were not their most expensive and rare belongings. The things they miss the most are the books my mom read to us as kids and planned to read to my kids, the knife my stepdad used to carve the holiday roasts, and the garden that my mom spent years of hard work cultivating.  The things they miss the most were the reminders of the memories we made in their house over the last 18 years.  

As my mom’s home was burning down, they were in their car driving here, to our house. Our house was their temporary home until they were able to start anew. I am well aware of the fortune I have been dealt when it comes to always having had a safe, comfortable, and dignified place to call home. Needing to provide the same under such circumstances for the people who once provided it for me, my parents, was something none of us would have ever imagined facing. There are many people who face homelessness, but often they have nowhere and no one to turn to.

Regardless of circumstances being what they may, addiction, mental or physical health challenges, strained relationships etc., I believe no individual should face homelessness on their own. While there are many folks who choose to resist housing assistance for various reasons, there are also some who don’t know what to do or where to go for help getting off the street.

In Reno, we as a community have a ton of resources for our homeless population. The Reno Police Department Community Action Office targets long term problems, such as homelessness, with outreach services that build relationships in the community. Additionally, the Reno Housing Authority provides housing vouchers for rent assistance for homeless individuals who meet basic compliance criteria, and Catholic Charities of Northern Nevada provides food, clothing, and other assistance for those in need.

One of my favorite programs in the Reno area, which I previously wrote about, is the HUD-VASH program. HUD-VASH is a joint effort between the Veterans Administration and the US Department of Housing and Urban Development that provides housing for homeless Veterans. Providing housing for HUD-VASH recipients is the reason I started Homeward Bound NV, and the reason every dollar I earn from my real estate business will be reinvested into the purchase and maintenance of safe, comfortable and dignified homes for homeless Veterans. To find out more about Homeward Bound NV and how you can help our business to support homeless Veterans in Reno, contact me here any time.

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