Home for Good has led a successful response to COVID-19 and is a reliable, trusted source of relief for many. We are taking this opportunity to share the COVID-19 response, the extensive need this virus has revealed and caused, and the proactive plan to meet that growing need.
Over the last few months, we witnessed the disruption caused by the Coronavirus. It has been not only a health crisis but also an economic crisis. Thanks to the support of organizations like United Way and the Community Foundation, Home for Good was able to immediately respond to the community’s needs and lead initiatives that are guiding our most vulnerable citizens.
Because of the tireless, collaborative work of Home for Good and our partner agencies, homelessness has decreased significantly over the years. In 2016, the By Name List of those experiencing homelessness was a high of 282. In 2019, the average was down to 110 people. And as of March 6, 2020, there were 94 people experiencing homelessness on the By Name List. Five years ago, we wanted to tackle Veteran homelessness. Today, there are 4 Veterans experiencing homelessness on the By Name List; they have turned down services offered.
If the number of individuals becoming homeless is declining, why is Home for Good invested in leading the way in the recovery effort? Because we know the factors that precede struggle and can result in homelessness. Before the outbreak, anywhere from 50% to 75% of Americans were living paycheck to paycheck with very little savings. Combine that with the job market we are currently facing, adversity is likely. Home for Good is committed to creating systems and programs now that prevent or at least minimize the results this virus may have on our community.
We can also see the increase in need through 2-1-1 reports. 2-1-1 calls and inquiries have increased significantly over the last two months. As those individuals and families move through the coordinated entry process, we take that time to assess their specific needs and tailor the referrals they receive. The coordinated entry process also allows an opportunity to anticipate future needs and a chance to insert prevention systems.
We are assessing the coordinated entry and referral processes as well as available programs to ensure we meet all our clients’ needs and that no one falls through the cracks. Because many people accessing these resources are doing so for the first time, the process can seem overwhelming. We are creating systems that help them navigate their way with little impediment. Our assessment has shown gaps in services that we are now taking the opportunity to remedy. The evaluation is ongoing and is providing valuable insight for improvement.
A positive outcome we have seen is connecting a population of individuals experiencing homelessness with services they were not involved with previously due to personal preferences. People who have been experiencing homelessness for years that did not necessarily want to accept help are now seeking shelter and, as a result, are utilizing wrap-around services that will help them understand they deserve a better living circumstance.
The most crucial aspect of our efforts is to ensure we treat our neighbors that are accessing resources as deserving citizens. At the core of Home for Good is the mission to engage with each individual or family, discover their exact needs, and take advantage of the collaborative system of programs we have in place.
We see the factors leading to homelessness now and can anticipate a growing need for services and programs. Our goal is to strengthen existing programs and enact other mitigating, preventative services. Home for Good has been working to prepare these systems of prevention for current and future issues. Programs, such as eviction prevention, will play a pivotal part in the community’s recovery. Home for Good is here to lead the collaboration critical to ensuring housing for all. We are in this together.