Several years ago the Men’s Shelter of Charlotte (MSC) made the decision to focus intently on getting men out of the shelter and into places of their own. We called it Continuing Care but what we were beginning to do is what is now commonly referred to as Rapid Re-Housing. The gist is to identify ways to move people into housing as quickly as possible to shorten their stay in emergency shelter.
Today MSC’s rapid re-housing approach includes using volunteers to help men begin preparing for their move through our Housing and Employment Resource Center. It takes partners like Crisis Assistance Ministry to obtain furniture and moving assistance. It takes resources including government funding to provide rental subsidies. It takes landlords who are willing to work with our clients. But, most importantly, it takes the determination of our men who really do want to move out of the shelter and the creativity of our case management staff to find ways to make it work.
To learn more about MSC’s impact by using best practices including rapid re-housing, check out our Impact Report.
To learn move about Rapid Re-Housing visit the National Alliance to End Homelessness. I especially encourage you to read their blog posting “Rapid Re-Housing is not an Anti-Poverty Program” (October 17, 2014). It’ll make you think!
The Charlotte Knights helped 25 former guests have a brighter holiday.
On Tuesday, Knights staff delivered frozen turkeys and stuffing to the shelter – but it didn’t stay there for long. The Thanksgiving meals went to former clients who now live on their own.
“It means everything. Thanksgiving is about family,” said recipient Mike Wilson. Wilson moved into his own apartment about 6 months ago and was thankful to get a call from his case manager about the turkeys.
The donation was a great opportunity for us to follow-up with the clients who have moved out and celebrate their successes over the last year. From July 1, 2013-June 30, 2014, 497 men moved into more appropriate housing.
Homer’s Turkey Drive also delivered turkeys to First Baptist Church, Urban Ministries and Hospitality House of Charlotte.
Today we are raising $2,000 to move one man home.
It’s Giving Tuesday, a national day of philanthropy where compassionate people across the nation contribute to making their communities even better. For Giving Tuesday, we have a small challenge with a big impact: One man moves home today! (at least!)
Together we can raise $2,000 in one day to move someone into a home for the holidays. $2,000 covers the first three months of rent, application fees, security deposit, property inspection, and utilities fees.
Consider John’s story.*
John and his daughter were living with his mother but discovered that he could jeopardize his mother’s government subsidized housing. John left his mother’s home- and his daughter- with no place to go. But instead of living on the streets he had our shelter to turn to. Not only did he find a safe place to sleep, shower, and eat, he had the chance to meet with a professional case manager.
We found out he had a disability claim pending. The case manager reached out to various community partners and agencies. Together they created a plan to support and stably house John and reunite him with his daughter, while he waits on his disability claim. And he has ongoing support from our case manager for his pending disability claim.
$2,000 helped with subsidizing John’s housing costs, case manager support, the bed, showers and meals he obtained while in transition to his more appropriate and stable housing.
Join the conversation and spread the news. Visit our Facebook and Twitter pages.
*Names and photos changed for privacy.
This week I’d like to share a bit about one of the Men’s Shelter of Charlotte’s most impactful, yet least known, service. In 2009 we launched our Medical Respite component, based on a model developed in Boston that I had also worked with in Raleigh. You see, when a person experiencing homelessness is in a medical hospital and it’s time to be discharged, the hospital is not responsible for finding them a place to go. So, if a person came in off the streets they are most likely discharged to the streets. This is not a criticism of our hospitals, it’s just reality.
Men’s Shelter of Charlotte’s Medical Respite component [one of our 5 core components: Income/Housing/Supports/Severe Weather/ & Medical Respite] is designed to help hospitals with discharge planning so men experiencing homelessness will have a place to go immediately after leaving the hospital for further recovery. Men’s Shelter of Charlotte has 10 beds dedicated to Medical Respite and we remain more than 90% full at all times.
Here’s how it works. When any of our local medical hospitals is ready to discharge a man experiencing homelessness who also needs some additional recuperation assistance, the hospital completes a referral to Men’s Shelter of Charlotte. We work with the hospital to ensure that Men’s Shelter of Charlotte can meet his needs and we coordinate, before he is discharged, follow up appointments, medications, wound care, etc. We even schedule with the hospitals to bring home health care assistance into the shelter to assist as needed. Medical Respite lasts for less than 14 days, during which time our staff works with the person to determine their income path and housing plan. Its fairly common for us to have a man housed by the time his Medical Respite stay at the shelter is complete.
At Men’s Shelter of Charlotte we focus attention on each man based on our equation: Income + Housing + Support = An End to Homelessness. Medical Respite is a key component that keeps a man experiencing homelessness on the path towards housing while dealing with a critical medical event. Men’s Shelter of Charlotte is thankful for our incredible partnerships with Carolinas Healthcare System and Novant Health. Our hospital partners not only want to provide medical care for men experiencing homelessness, they also want to see them end their homeless experience – together that’s just what we’re doing.
What do you think about when you hear the phrase “Human Rights Issue”? I think about human trafficking, suppression of civil rights, and discrimination, to name a few. But have you thought about homelessness as a human rights issue? Many people experiencing homelessness face issues of domestic violence, suppression of rights, and, yes, even human trafficking. As importantly, people experiencing homelessness need access to what we can all agree is a basic human right – a safe, decent, affordable place to live. So it makes sense to place homelessness within the context of human rights issues.
Just this week, the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness posted a blog titled “3 Reasons to Address Homelessness as a Human Rights Issue.” You can find the full blog at http://USICH.gov/blog. Below I’ve quoted the gist of their posting, which I think is important for all who are concerned about homelessness to consider.
Here are three key benefits of addressing homelessness from a human rights perspective:
- Housing is a human right, and remembering that keeps stakeholders focused on helping people who experience homelessness achieve permanent housing, rather than on services that – may be well-intentioned but – do not ultimately help people exit homelessness into housing stability. Permanent housing is the primary solution to preventing and ending homelessness and the overarching strategy of Opening Doors: Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness.
- Human rights put people first. Good strategies start from understanding the unique needs of individuals, families, youth, and Veterans. A human rights approach keeps people and their needs at the forefront of our work.
- Homelessness has a human cost. Yes, ending homelessness is cost-effective for the taxpayer (doing nothing can actually cost taxpayers more money). But dollars are not the only cost of homelessness; humans experience homelessness at a horrific expense to the health and well-being of themselves and their communities. When we make the case that safe and stable housing is a human right, our cause is strengthened. We can tap into the passions, relationships, and experiences that cut across sectors — and budget sheets — to create new partnerships and solutions.
Thanks to Liz Osborn at the USICH for making such a thoughtful and compelling argument for addressing homelessness as a human rights issue. To learn more about the federal strategic plan to prevent and end homelessness, Opening Doors (mentioned by Liz above), please visit their website at usich.gov.
One key strategy for ending homelessness is to stop thinking about the issue as a social ill or condition. It’s a tragic human experience. It’s also a human experience we can end and prevent.