Making inroads to not just end homelessness in the QCA but prevent it

News

Changing the approach to homelessness in the Quad Cities is starting to see results.

That’s what the Quad Cities Salvation Army told Local 4 News Thursday following a revamp of their program last year.

They saw a big jump in the number of families they were able to shelter this past winter from October 2018 through the end of March. 

They served a total of 92 families.

They told Local 4 instead of operating their own shelter facility; they’re paying for motel rooms families can stay in

“We’ve been able to serve more people with that because, in the other building, we only had a certain amount of apartments for shelter, so it was once we’re at max, this is all we can do. With utilizing the motels, then we can serve as many people as we have money for,” said Salvation Army’s Program and Operations Director Kelle Larned.

Compared to the 2017-2018 winter season, they were able to increase the nights housed by 2,997.

That’s for a total of 7,321 shelter nights.

One of the other significant change was the development of the Coordinated Entry program.

It was part of a requirement for federal funding housing and shelter agencies in the QCA receive. 

The Salvation Army is the lead agency and partnering with more than 20 other services as Local 4 News first reported in January when the program started.

The goal is to help people and families experiencing homelessness find available shelter resources and then work toward housing. 

Salvation Army Quad Cities Coordinator Major Scott Shelbourn said, “Just finding a place that people can afford to stay in and stay there long term is the biggest hurdle that most people have.”

Coordinated entry is trying to overcome that barrier by centralizing resources of all housing and shelter services.

Larned said, “Individuals or families who are homeless to be able to become more stable.”

How it works is people come into the Salvation Army location and complete an assessment to determine their needs. Depending on the level, they’re placed on a list and referred to an agency with available resources. 

Larned said, “Which has helped, so they don’t have to go from place to place. The case manager is doing that leg work.”

“Sometimes we can help the families entirely, but most often we’re helping them partially and then with the other agencies coming together we’re making the community’s resources just expand in a way that I don’t think anyone could of really dreamed possible before,” said Shelbourn. 

Since the start of the program in January through March, 131 people have gone through the Coordinated Entry process, and Program and Operations Director Kelle Larned said 95 have met the federal government’s definition for homeless and referred to partnering agencies.

Currently, about 15 have moved into housing, and 52 are in the referral stage. 

Larned said, “There’s a lot of paperwork and back work that they have to do, especially if they have a disability, they have to verify the disability, so it does take a while for that to happen.”

And since reworking their programs for those experiencing homelessness last year, Larned also said they’ve stepped in before homelessness becomes a reality.

Starting in October 2018,  the one-time assistance program has since assisted nearly 140 families or 429 people. It provides for rent, utilities or other needs to keep people in their home or quickly access another long-term housing situation. 

Larned said, “It’s nice to know they’re staying in their home or they’re going to a new home because most of our dollars has went to rent.”

Coordinated Entry covers both Iowa and Illinois.

There are three case managers assigned to the program. 

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