Waiting to enter shelter

Thursday, November 2, 2017


Contributor: Nanci Micke, Vice President of Marketing and Communications at United Way Fox Cities

The need for shelter and housing continues to be the number one request when people call our United Way 2-1-1 helpline. In turn, Homeless Connections has determined that the most significant problem facing their organization is the number of people being turned away for shelter.
Let’s take a closer look:

  • Homeless Connections, a United Way Fox Cities partner agency, works to end homelessness by connecting individuals and families to resources that promote self-sufficiency and prevent future episodes of homelessness.
  • Although the shelter can accommodate 78 people per day, the program consistently maintains a waiting list ranging from 26 to 70 people.

To address that need, Homeless Connections is creating the Diversion Program, and United Way Fox Cities is funding the program with a grant of $200,000. The Diversion Program will target individuals and families who have an immediate risk of homelessness, when they first contact the shelter. Typically, they are people who have already lost their permanent housing and are either precariously housed or doubled-up with family and friends. Rather than going on the shelter waiting list and postponing services until they eventually enter shelter, the Diversion Program will provide services at first contact.
Here is how it will work:

  • Case Management will ensure clients have a safe place to stay, connect them with more stable housing, plan for long-term economic security, and connect with educational programs. Homeless Connections will work with the Appleton Area School District so children remain in school. They will also partner with Fox Valley Technical College to offer opportunities for adults to improve their long-term self-sufficiency.
  • The Rapid Re-housing component will identify housing options, provide rental assistance, and provide financial assistance to address barriers to housing, such as lack of a security deposit, delinquent utilities, or unpaid rent.

Jerome Martin, executive director of Homeless Connections said, “Over the past couple of years, we’ve had a lot of people who were experiencing homelessness, but could not immediately access shelter because all of our 78 beds were occupied. Unfortunately, people in this situation are forced to wait to enter shelter and consequently, do not receive services, which prolongs their homeless episode. Thanks to United Way Fox Cities, we’re able to begin delivering services to them as soon as they appear on our radar and ultimately, may be able to prevent them from having to come into shelter entirely.”
United Way Fox Cities has awarded an Innovative Grant in the amount of $200,000 to Homeless Connection’s Diversion Program to address the needs of people on the waiting list for shelter. Innovative Grants address an underlying cause of an identified community need, and are done in collaboration with other partners. We will be sharing more Innovative Grant stories in future blogs.

Listen to an interview on WHBY's Fresh Take with Josh Dukelow about Homeless Connection's Diversion Program. (Start time 27:47)