IDENTIFYING AND SERVING UNSHELTERED & AT-RISK FAMILIES<br />FEBRUARY 11, 2011<br />National Conference on Ending Family Homelessness<br />Angela Patterson, MSW, MPS Deputy Director of Programs<br />
UNITY of Greater New Orleans<br />A Collaborative of 63 Agencies Providing Housing and Services to the Homeless<br /><ul><li>Founded in 1992 with assistance from the city, UNITY of Greater New Orleans is a nonprofit organization leading community-wide strategies to reduce homelessness in New Orleans and Jefferson Parish.
Our mission is to coordinate community partnerships to prevent, reduce and end homelessness.
UNITY raises funds for 48 of its member organizations to provide an array of housing and services for the homeless.
UNITY assists its organizations to implement nationally proven strategies to reduce homelessness, trains service providers, and performs programmatic monitoring and evaluation of its agencies’ programs.</li></li></ul><li>Post-Katrina Homelessness By the Numbers<br />
Primary Factors Causing Post-Katrina Homeless Crisis in New Orleans<br />Devastation of 51,000 units of rental housing stock and skyrocketing rents.<br />Increases in mental and physical illness and substance addiction while healthcare infrastructure for the poor has not been rebuilt.<br />Displacement of extended family and neighborhood networks on which so many vulnerable people once relied.<br />
Post-Katrina Homelessness<br />452 people rescued and re-housed from two large squalid homeless camps in the heart of downtown New Orleans from Nov. 2007-July 2008-a national record<br />975different named individuals documented who lived in one or both of these camps. 64% came to camps from abandoned buildings.<br />Street homelessness no longer concentrated in downtown as it was before Katrina-now it is spread across the city.<br />Estimated7,385homeless persons living on the streets, in cars, and in abandoned buildings as of January 2009. <br />8full-time outreach workers.<br />
Abandoned People in Abandoned Buildings<br />Estimated 3,000 – 6,000 persons residing in abandoned buildings in New Orleans and Jefferson Parish as of August 2010.<br />56,951 abandoned residences in New Orleans as of September 2010. 29% blight-highest number in the nation.<br />58% of abandoned building dwellers suffer from a disabling medical illness.<br />76% of abandoned building dwellers suffer with mental illness.<br />Only four full-time outreach workers available to search for abandoned building dwellers.<br />
Abandoned Building Outreach<br />We are the only outreach team in the nation to send its outreach workers, armed only with flashlights, into abandoned buildings in the middle of the night to find and rescue severely disabled homeless people. <br />
Where People Sleep When They Have Nowhere Else to Live<br />
Resources Used to Find and Re-House Homeless Families<br />Street and abandoned building outreach (HUD CoC, PATH, SAMHSA, federal/state hurricane recovery funds, private donations)<br />Hotel vouchers (HPRP, HUD CoC, grants from Health Care for the Homeless clinic and local mental health agency, federal/state hurricane recovery funds, private donations)<br />Permanent Supportive Housing (HUD CoC, federal/state hurricane recovery funds)<br />Short-term rent assistance (HPRP, HUD CoC, federal/state hurricane recovery funds)<br />Case management (HPRP, federal/state hurricane recovery funds, grant from local mental health agency)<br />
DO’s and DON’Ts of Finding and Re-Housing Unsheltered Homeless Families<br />Get help identifying unsheltered families. Since unsheltered families tend to be well hidden, use homeless shelters (in New Orleans, they frequently turn away families for lack of space or because of the age of the boys), neighborhood organizations, networks of service providers, school liaisons, and elected officials to help outreach team identify potential client families.<br />Target scarce resources appropriately by carefully verifying homelessness (we always go to the site where the family sleeps, and we do night checks as necessary to see where potential clients are actually sleeping). If family turns out not to be unsheltered but meets other homeless or at-risk criteria, refer them to appropriate housing placement. <br />
DO’s and DON’Ts of Finding and Re-Housing Unsheltered Homeless Families<br />First find immediate temporary housing. In New Orleans, we tend to put unsheltered families into hotels because of the lack of sufficient shelter beds. We put families with children in hotels even when we have no hotel vouchers to pay for the stay. Other options are to negotiate with extended families to temporarily take in the unsheltered family while you work to get the family placed in permanent housing. <br />Project calm authority to begin to alleviate the extreme stress the entire family is experiencing. Assure your client that you will go to bat for them. Don’t be put off by the fact that the children may be acting out. Don’t expect the parent to be able to control the children’s behavior during such a stressful time. <br />
DO’s and DON’Ts of Finding and Re-Housing Unsheltered Homeless Families<br />Don’t judge. Don’t judge your client as a bad parent or a bad person, no matter what she has done or how out-of-control the children may seem. That is the past: your focus is on creating a better future for your client and her children.<br />Do a comprehensive assessment of all the potential needs of each unsheltered homeless families. Typically, their problems are extremely complex since there frequently are issues of mental and physical illness, substance addiction, cognitive impairments and/or domestic violence among the adults, and behavior problems and illnesses in the children. <br />
DO’s and DON’Ts of Finding and Re-Housing Unsheltered Homeless Families<br />Take charge in the beginning. Do not give your clients bus tokens and expect them to be able to complete assignments under such stressful circumstances. In the beginning, you will take your client to every appointment and fill out paperwork for her, providing calm and reassurance at every turn. As time goes on, your client will be able to do much more for herself, depending on the extent of her disabilities.<br />In addition to finding jobs and permanent housing for your clients, address early on whatever issues are the biggest stressors. This typically includes school and behavior problems in the children, health care and mental health and substance abuse treatment for the adults, criminal justice issues, repairing relationships with extended families.<br />
J. R.’s Family – From a Vehicle to a House<br />26 year old woman with five children ages 3 months, 1, 2, 4, and 9 years.<br />Rescued by outreach worker following contact by city Advocacy Office.<br />Lost housing after Katrina due to limited income and domestic violence situation.<br />Mother suffers from Major Depression, Developmental Disability, and PTSD.<br />Not able to access shelter because 3 month old had extensive, severe medical problems including tracheotomy. <br />
Ending the J. R. Family’s Homelessness<br />Evaluated by outreach team and placed in emergency respite bed- low cost hotel.<br />Provided with case management services-medical and mental health assistance, clothes, food, school supplies, school uniforms, child care, Walmart’s card, car seats, collaboration with hospital social workers, coats.<br />Received a HPRP Rapid Re-housing Family program rental assistance, until she received a Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) voucher through the Rebuilding Communities Shelter Plus Care Program.<br />Currently, the family is stably housed and receiving housing support services.<br />
D. B. Family- From an Abandoned House to a Home<br />32 year old woman with 2 children. 1 child living with maternal grandmother, 4 year old son living with her.<br />Mother did not have any income and was fleeing a domestic violence situation.<br />Homelessness verified by outreach team; family found sleeping and being bitten by bed bugs in abandoned house.<br />Mother suffers from hepatitis C, other medical problems, depression and substance.<br />Not able to access shelter because she exhausted her shelter free nights.<br />
Ending the D. B. Family’s Homelessness<br />Evaluated by outreach team and placed in emergency shelter with vouchers from collaborative agency.<br />Provided with case management services – medical and mental health assistance, food, hygiene items, toys, transportation, and crisis counseling.<br />Received a Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) voucher through the Rebuilding Communities Shelter Plus Care Program.<br />Currently, the family is stably housed and receiving housing support services.<br />
K. C. Family- From a Car to a House<br />30 year old woman with 3 children, ages 11, 10 and 6 years old. The mother lost her employment due to serious illness and was unable to sustain housing and utilities.<br />The outreach team received a call from NO/AIDS task force reporting family living in a car.<br />Homeless verified by outreach team, family found sleeping in the car in a residential neighborhood.<br />Not able to access shelter because mother receiving oxygen, with active pneumonia and had AIDS. She also had depression and PTSD.<br />
Ending the K. C. Family’s Homelessness<br />Evaluated by outreach team and placed in emergency respite bed- low cost hotel.<br />Provided with case management services-medical and mental health assistance, prescription assistance, clothes, food, referral for summer camp for kids.<br />Received a Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) Voucher through the Rebuilding Communities Shelter Plus Care Program.<br />Currently, the family is stably housed and receiving housing support services.<br />
Easing the Transition from the Street to a New Home<br />Be available to assist clients with their needs. Being housed can be overwhelming and brings on a whole new set of needs that the family may not be prepared to deal with (obtaining pots and pans, cleaning supplies, furniture etc.)<br />Reassess primary caretaker’s functioning. In the pressure to seek housing, parent may present well and seem higher functioning at time of initial assessment and be referred to a short-term rental assistance program in error,<br />Establish a routine of home life. Ensure that the family is able to get daily tasks of living in a home accomplished (getting groceries, getting kids to and from school.)<br />Do whatever it takes to get your family stably housed and to remain stably housed. There is no one playbook. The best programs do extraordinary things as needed for particular families. Our motto is “Whatever It Takes”.<br />
For More Information, Contact<br />Angela Patterson<br />Deputy Director of Programs<br />UNITY of Greater New Orleans<br />firstname.lastname@example.org<br />(504) 899-4589, Ext. 101<br />2475 Canal Street, Suite 300<br />New Orleans, LA 70119<br />Blog With Us!<br />Follow our outreach team as they search abandoned buildings and the streets to reach out to the most vulnerable. Check out Signs of Life in New Orleans at www.unitygno.org/blog<br />