Congregations for the Homeless Programs
Founded in 1993, the rotating shelter provides a warm, safe and hospitable place for up to 35 single men. Three meals are provided by the more than 3,000 congregational volunteers - a sit down hot dinner, full breakfast and packed sandwiches for lunch. Over the years the shelter program has added free services including showers, laundry, haircuts, medical and dental assistance, and legal services.
In 2005 we added a case management-life coaching program. To qualify for housing, a man must agree to our case management program. 4½ full-time case managers, volunteer Directors of Life Coaching and Housing, and 15 volunteer life coaches work alongside the clients to coach them in making decisions and establishing useful life habits, to maintain employment, improve job and computer skills, manage money and resolve outstanding debts. Case management starts in the shelter where men are assisted in qualifying for housing and taught budgeting and rental skills. The case managers then visit every week during the early months of a man’s getting housing.
We have provided subsidized housing since 2005. Since then we have moved 380 men from life on the street to permanent housing. CFH provides 58 housing subsidies at present. Through our existing subsidies, we can offer men a chance to rent a room or an apartment for 30% of their income. For most men this is between $300 and $500 per month. This allows them to have a permanent apartment or a room in a house where they can stabilize their lives, gain self-esteem and continue to learn the life skills needed to live independently. In 2011, 70% of the men who left the shelter obtained permanent housing.
Recent Successes and Current Challenges
Our mission is to move men from life on the streets to permanent housing. In 2011, 70%
men leaving our shelter moved to permanent housing. Since 2005, more than 380 men moved to permanent housing.
In 2010, Jim entered our shelter for the second time. The first time, Jim made progress on some medical barriers, but left without significant movement towards stable housing. When he returned he quickly reconnected with his case manager. Jim was set up with on-going mental health and medical support and helped get dentures, which greatly helped his self-esteem. Jim acquired some stable income, which made him eligible for CFH’s subsidized housing program. In November Jim moved into his first stable living situation in over a decade. The joy and gratitude Jim felt as he held the key in his hands and unlocked the door to his room was palpable. He no longer had to wonder where he would spend his days. He belonged; he once again had a place in this community. He is connecting to other community organizations, churches, etc. He is continuing to work with his case manager so that he can be in a place where he can get back to work.
The key to successful stable housing is steady income which opens doors and improves self-esteem which in turn leads to stronger efforts to overcome addictions and deal with slight mental issues. Employment for homeless men with many barriers is often difficult. We are having success with the Employer Liaison Program. This program identifies employers willing to take a chance with homeless men and mitigates risks employers face and provides job coaching and case management
to ensure a successful work experience for both the client and employer. Key funding for the staff ($40,000) is required to take this program to an ongoing level.