Alyssa and her family are home
After a short month in the SFP program, Alyssa and her children have moved to permanent housing. Alyssa’s hard work at two jobs, along with support from the SFP staff connecting her with the Rapid Rehousing program, allowed this lovely family of three to now be secure and stable. Liam and Maggie, pictured left, now have a bright future ahead of them.
2009: Angela, Jacob and Emma
Dear Pati and Staff,
I arrived in central Florida on March 28, 2012. I’m the assistant manager at mobile home and rv park in which I live. I’ve just purchased my 2nd home in the park, a 4 bedroom 2 bath double wide with additions
Jacob and Emma are everything to me. Jacob will be eight years old and he is going into second grade in the fall. He was diagnosed with Asperger’s and is in an alternative school where he did amazingly well. Emma turned six in May of this year. She will be in first grade in the fall, and she is really a social butterfly. I work twice as hard to make sure that she doesn’t feel unloved because Jacob requires so much of my time.
I’ll never forget my move out date October 24th, 2009. I’ll never forget what you all did for us, and the only thing I can do now to repay you is live, love, learn and grow. SFP saved our lives. I was very young then and I am still young now, however, I wish I had learned that you need to be able to take care of you and your own before anything else.
Your efforts, everyone, every church, every meal, every box of diapers, bottle of shampoo. Every car donated every meal. Every shower every air bed, every portacrib. Every hug every smile every lifesaving stranger, every tear…will forever be inside everyone who ever passes through your doors. I wouldn’t change my life, from the day I stepped foot into the day center until the day I stepped out 5 months later.
I think it’d be great if someone could read this on my behalf! I’d love to read it myself, however, I cried rivers writing this so I can’t imagine reading it.
We love you!
Angela, Jacob and Emma
2006: Shelly, Colby, Ricky, and Justin
Remember Shelly who was in our program in 2006? Here is a recent note that she sent.
I am in my last term of nursing school. I will have my LPN in September, and plan on going for my RN, which I should have done by the end of next year.
We were living on our own in Pennsylvania for 3 1/2 years going to school when my family called and needed me home. I have been living in Acton, Maine, and am working as an LNA in Somersworth. I ran into an old flame about 2 years ago, and we have been together since.
Ricky is in the Army, stationed in TN, with a little one of his own. He is married to a wonderful girl, and my granddaughter is the apple of my eye. He has done 2 tours in Afghanistan, and is scheduled to go again this fall.
Colby is a junior in high school. He is involved in Cadets (police academy) and is very involved in community fundraisers such as Maine’s Children’s Cancer Program where he helped raise $115,500 in two days!
Justin is now in the 6th grade. He has been diagnosed with Autism, but is very active in school singing in chorus, and playing the clarinet in band. (He is very talented!) He plans on picking up the saxophone next year.
We have all come a very long way since we stayed in IHN, but have not forgotten the warmth and love that had been extended to us. We hope all is well, and are so pleased IHN is still helping families in need.
Shelley and family
2013: Jessie and Jacob
Jessie, one of the Veterans who have passed through our program recently wrote a lovely note of thanks:
“I am so happy to have the chance to continue to be in the Guard and am looking forward to my new job in South Portland, Me.” she went on to write “I have been very lucky to meet such wonderful people at SFP and am very thankful for all of the help that was given to me and my family. Me and my baby Jacob are going to have a great life now. We have learned many things. Don’t worry, we will keep in touch. Thank you all for giving us a new chance at a better life.”
2011: Jess, Amber, and Crystal
TOGETHER. SHAPING THE FUTURE OF FAMILIES.
Coming from a domestic violence circumstance Mariah, and her daughters ages four and six months entered SFP feeling like there was no hope for the future. After receiving a donated vehicle, Mariah was able with the help of SFP staff to find a training program that would change the course of the family’s future.
Having successfully completed her training, Mariah secured employment starting at $16 per hour. Mariah and her daughters exited SFP to permanent, stable housing and a bright future.
WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
Shaundra and the Girls: Shaundra and her four lovely daughters remain in stable housing. During a visit last week, Shaundra stated that she loved her job and wore a smile from ear to ear.
Jessie: Remaining determined to retain custody of her two young boys Jacob and Matthew, Jessie has made a wonderful life in stable housing, solid employment, and remains in the National Guard Reserves in service to our country.
Giving House Keys to Homeless Is Not The Only Key
by Joel John Roberts
We used to think providing a freshly-cooked meal for the hungry and a warm bed for the homeless was the solution to addressing this country’s homelessness. That “Good Samaritan” approach to helping those who were down and out was a divine mandate.
But when homelessness increased dramatically despite compassionate responses, many experts turned to a new paradigm for resolving this country’s extreme poverty. Today’s modern approach is called ” housing first” where the most hurting people on the streets are given direct access to apartments, along with case workers who support them.
Communities across America have embraced this approach, acknowledging that a decades-old shelter system is just not the way to resolve homelessness. In recent years, studies show that this approach is working. More housing is being built, more rental assistance is being provided, and more people are getting off the streets.
But for those front-line agencies and care workers who encounter America’s hurting, they agree that passing out front-door house keys and providing volunteer support is not the end of a person’s homelessness, especially for those who have been living on the streets for numerous years.
Last year, the agency I run moved in more than 2,000 formerly homeless people and family members into their own apartments throughout southern and central California. Staff members, faith group supporters, and celebrities hand-carried tables, chairs, and beds into these apartments so our newly housed neighbors would move into homes, not just empty apartments.
We memorialized these celebrative events with a picture of everyone huddled around a “I Made It Home!” sign.
You would think we should pat ourselves on our backs, knowing that we just moved a person off the streets and into a home.
But we are worried. Not only because there are so many more people who need to be housed, but also because these newly-housed neighbors need more than just a furnished apartment.
We are worried about loneliness. About the temptation to return back to an old life. About an isolated life with no intimate relationships. A furnished apartment with no links to the outside world is not the end of one’s state of homelessness, it is just bringing in a hurting, disconnected person off the streets and into an apartment.
A weekly visit from a case worker, or an open case management office in the building, does not create an intimate, supportive community for a person who has been isolated on the streets for years.
Last month, representatives from the Aileen Getty Foundation met with 120 of our case workers (who last year helped house 2,000 people.) Getty and her team are promoting a post-Housing First approach to resolving homelessness.
They are creating a new model where we help our homeless neighbors (both unhoused or newly-housed) create a sense of belonging in a world that is becoming more and more less relational, more technology-based — a world that is becoming colder.
Imagine living in the hills, hidden from people, for years and years? You cannot just move into an apartment and assume your life will be changed overnight. Even if a case worker visits you every Tuesday afternoon.
New relationships need to be created, healthy habits need to be formed, and a community of people – whether neighbors or support groups — need to embrace you. These are the transformative solutions to a disconnected person living isolated on our streets.
Housing is certainly the foundation for a healthy, changed life. Yes, housing should be first. But what follows is more than clinical support services. Your state of homelessness will finally end when you belong to a supportive community that embraces you as their own.
An insightful article from the New York Times on the lives of homeless children:
Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR)
There was no decline in the number of homeless families sheltered in 2013, who accounted for 86% of all persons in families counted as homeless “on that one day.”
According to AHAR, the PIT count of sheltered persons in families has increased from 178,328 in 2007 to a record 191,571 in 2013, an increase of 13.5%.
It should be noted that HUD’s count of sheltered homeless family members is, in part, limited by the number of shelter beds available. It is important to note the following.
“Overflow” members of families who are homeless are either on the streets where they are more difficult to count; or else they are doubled up, or in hotel rooms, meaning they are not counted as homeless by HUD.
As reported in the 2013 AHAR, persons in families continue to constitute about 36% of all those experiencing homelessness.
There is no letup in the economic conditions that create homelessness:
- The number of people living in poverty is still at an all-time high,
- The number of families living doubled up have increased 279% since 2007,
- The number of households paying 50% or more of their income for housing has risen every year in the last decade,
- While unemployment has improved slightly; the unemployment rate among the lowest earning segments of workforce is still over 16%.
Childhood Poverty and a New Hampshire Initiative:
The Face of Homelessness:
Homeless prevention and emergency shelter services continue to provide a safety net to
some of New Hampshire’s most vulnerable citizens.
- The average age of homelessness in the State of NH is 9 years old
- 31% of those experiencing homelessness served in NH were families with children
- The average length of shelter stay in 2012 ranged from 47.90 days to 50.53 days
- Length of stay increased significantly, up 20%, since 2011
- On any given day there are approximately 2,438 people homeless across the state
- Of this total, approximately 27% (713) were the “hidden homeless,” those persons who are temporarily doubled up, “couch surfing,” or living precariously in overcrowded or unsafe conditions
There is some good news. All three CoCs (Continuum of Care) again scored well enough to be awarded bonus funding in 2012 for permanent housing projects through the 2011 HUD Super NOFA application.
While homeless service providers focused on the work at hand, we saw new regulations
published by HUD pertaining to the definition of homelessness, the Emergency Solutions Grant
(formerly Emergency Shelter Grant) Program, Consolidated Planning process, and the
Continuum of Care process. These new regulations came out of the 2009 legislation that
reauthorized the HUD McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Program, the Homeless
Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing (HEARTH) Act, which will change the
way communities respond to homelessness. The HEARTH Act and accompanying regulations
codify many of the procedures which homeless assistance programs have been working under,
but will also require a dramatic shift in the delivery of homeless services. Key elements include
implementing a centralized coordinated intake system, shifting from a “no wrong door” entry
approach, to “only one door” approach for folks entering the homeless service system, and using
shelter diversion to reduce homelessness. There is also a change in community-wide required
performance measures which will be used by HUD to make funding decisions. These include
targeted reductions in the length of stay in shelters and transitional housing, rapidly re-housing
homeless persons, increasing program exits to permanent housing, and reductions in homeless
recidivism rates. The implementation of the HEARTH Act will present both challenges and
opportunities, and BHHS has begun working with funded agencies providing technical assistance
and creating opportunities for collaboration on implementing the new program requirements.
This information does not include the many other individuals and families housed by private shelters, local welfare, churches, charities, friends and family. Many of New Hampshire’s citizens continue to face significant challenges which place them at risk for homelessness.
*Data courtesy of the Bureau of Homeless and Housing Services, Office of Human Service, NH Department of Health and Human Services