New daytime resources for those struggling with homelessness

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Project RUSH

Watch this video to learn more about Project RUSH:

Contributor: Betsy Borns, Project RUSH Manager for Fox Cities Housing Coalition

My name is Betsy Borns and I am the Project RUSH Manager. Project RUSH (Research to Understand and Solve Homelessness), was a study done by the Fox Cities Housing Coalition to better understand the needs of people struggling with homelessness and housing instability. My role is to initiate and coordinate activities related to the eight strategic areas of focus identified in the research.

As my steering committee and all 30+ agencies in the Fox Cities Housing Coalition helped me define my priorities, it was evident that finding a place for people struggling with homelessness to go during the day was a huge need. The Appleton Public Library has always welcomed everyone and our local coffee shops let people sit at tables (especially on cold days). Sadly, there is no structured place designed specifically for people experiencing homelessness. Up to 180 people sleep in our local shelters each night. Many of these people have limited options on where to go during the day - not only to get out of the elements, but also to help with programming and recovery.

After a few months of searching, I found a great match! St. Matthew Lutheran Church on the corner of Mason and Lawrence is connected to a school that is no longer in use. I approached St. Matthew’s and they generously offered us the space at no cost. They were thrilled to be able to offer their unused space to help the community. The concept of a “day resource center” was born.

My role is designed to get projects started on a path, but not to own the project. So, after some of the funding and space issues were figured out, I needed to pass on the Day Resource Center project to an agency that could run and manage it. Homeless Connections stepped up to take over the project and plan the programming. This was a perfect fit for their agency and very much in their wheelhouse. Among other things, they plan to hire a Recovery Coach to assist those struggling with addictions and a Housing Navigator to help people find housing.

As for Project RUSH, I have moved on to spearhead a couple of new projects to support our community’s desire to end homelessness. These projects are still a bit too early to discuss, but I look forward to returning in the future to highlight you on my progress.