Community Volunteers Make Homeless Research a Success

Monday, November 16, 2015

Contributor: Joe Mauthe, Vice President of the Fox Cities Housing Coalition and Executive Director of the Housing Partnership of the Fox Cities

Last month, the Fox Cities Housing Coalition presented the initial results of Project RUSH (Research to Understand and Solve Homelessness) at our Annual Report to the Community. With over 300 interested members of the community in attendance, we reviewed the results of the in-depth study that was conducted earlier in the year.
In April, 125 community volunteers and nonprofit agency staff completed over 600 interviews. Half of these interviews were with people who are currently homeless. The other half were with the ‘hidden homeless’ (those temporarily living with friends or family) and those on the ‘verge of homelessness’ (those who expect to lose their housing in the coming months due to financial reasons). A project of this magnitude simply would not have been possible without our community volunteers.

Armed with a 100+ question survey, a few hours of training, and a sharp pencil, the interviewers showed up at one of 17 sites and waited for someone to share their story. All told, these volunteers contributed over 900 hours of their time to help us better understand the stories of those less fortunate in our community. They diligently asked questions about physical and mental health, childhood trauma, social connections, substance abuse, education, employment, and housing history. They patiently listened to stories of hardship and desperation, while probing for (often uncomfortable) details.
The Fox Cities Housing Coalition came away with a treasure of data that will allow us
to better serve this population and ultimately put more preventative measures in place. And the volunteers came away with a much deeper understanding what happens in the life of someone who is homeless or struggling to avoid such a situation. We were able to capture the thoughts and emotions of a number of these volunteers as they reflected on their experience and we are happy to share that video.
Thanks to our incredible volunteers for their efforts to improve the quality of life in the Fox Cities! And thanks to United Way Fox Cities and other local funders for making this project a reality! 

Learn more about Project RUSH and review the results.