Sunday, January 17, 2016

Areas of Permanent Immediate Need

2015-19 Consolidated Plan at 141

This blog follows "Poverty and Homelessness in the Collaboration Capital."  

Described below are some of the better-known local programs and services that attempt to provide for the immediate needs of Salem’s sheltered and unsheltered homeless.  Such services are referred to as “public services” in the City’s reports to HUD.  The description does not include every program or service, because they're constantly changing, nor does it include Salem’s economic development, so-called micro-enterprise programs, community and housing rehabilitation and revitalization programs, or new construction of rental housing programs, also funded by HUD, even though they are combined, confusingly, in reports to HUD (HUD requires them to be combined).  

For a reasonably complete map of providers, with layers showing commercial laundries, grocery stores, cooling/warming shelters, churches, low-income/affordable housing and camps (current and potential), see here.  For meal and food distribution sites, see here

Stabilizing Services (aka “homelessness prevention” services): Because keeping people housed is  far less complicated than re-housing them after a prolonged period of homelessness, HUD favors -- and most communities offer -- stabilizing or "homelessness prevention" services, which often take the form of counseling and resource-referral, as well as food, clothing, and sometimes "direct" or monetary aid of various kinds (e.g., bus passes, fees to secure identification papers, the cost of prescriptions, etc.). Once a year, providers host "Community Connect" events in Marion (March) and Polk County (January, the same day as the Homeless Count). 

CHP State Street Entrance

In Salem, residents who, for whatever reason, find themselves facing the threat of homelessness, can go downtown to the office of the First United Methodist Church and talk to a trained social worker provided by a network of local Christian churches called Congregations Helping People or CHP.  In limited circumstances, they might even qualify for direct aid in the form of rent or utility assistance, if that’s all that’s needed to keep them housed.  Or, they can try the Salvation Army office at 1977 Front Street.  Or, they can call or visit at two locations in east Salem a “resource navigator” provided by another organization called Mano a Mano, which targets Salem’s Latino and immigrant residents.  
SIHN Day Center on Edgewater Street

They can also go across the bridge to Edgewater Street in West Salem, and talk to a case manager at the office and day center belonging to Salem Interfaith Hospitality Network or Salem IHN (or sometimes, SIHN), which focuses on families.  Of course, all these programs have limited resources and hours of operation, and access might require transportation or access to a phone.  Individuals in crisis can call a 24-hour hotline run by Northwest Human Services or NWHS.   

Emergency Shelter Services (in the language of homeless services delivery, housing is either "emergency," "transitional," "permanent" or "permanent supportive"): Victims of domestic violence (including children) may usually find emergency shelter through the Center for Hope and Safety and their 24-hour hotline.

Other residents without a shelter of their own (and without friends or family who can shelter them) might sleep in their car or a tent, most often illegally.  Or they could go to Salem's Union Gospel Mission (UGM), Salem's only permanent emergency shelter services provider, which serves around 2,100 individuals each year at two emergency shelters in Salem and Keizer.  Although UGM does offer a range of services, its mission is to save souls.  To that end, UGM does not accept government funds.
Simonka Place in Keizer

The UGM Men’s Shelter at Center and Commercial Streets in Salem accommodates on average over 200 men per night -- less in warm weather, more in cold, when the sobriety requirement is waived, and those who've been "trespassed" for whatever reason are allowed back in.  Needless to say, conditions there are very cramped in cold weather.  For women, there is overnight shelter in Keizer for up to 115 women and their children (except male children 12 and older) at UGM's Simonka Place (George Simonka was Salem UGM's first executive director).  Simonka Place is reportedly always “at capacity.”  Although capacity expands somewhat in cold weather, it is limited.

There is limited overnight shelter for youth at H.O.S.T. on Liberty Street.  There is no emergency shelter for families in Salem.  Compare Salem to Corvallis, which has about one-third of Salem's population, about half as many homeless, and an emergency shelter for families that will hold up to 20 individuals.

HOAP Day Center on Church Street

Day Centers: during the day, homeless adults may seek advice, referrals and various forms of assistance including meals, showers, and laundry at day centers.  Salem's primary day center is H.O.A.P. on Church Street, which serves 90 to 100 clients each day, 50 to 60 new clients each month.  HOAP was designed to serve mentally ill adults experiencing chronic homelessness, but has had to expand service to accommodate needs not met by other providers (Arches in particular).  Homeless youth and youth considered to be at risk of homelessness because of their familial  relationships can find advice and services at H.O.M.E Youth Resource and Referral Center on Union Street (ages 11 to 17) and at H.O.S.T on Liberty Street (ages 18 to 24).
Arches Day Center on Madison Street
Transitional Housing Services: As the name implies, transitional housing services involve mutual planning and commitments between provider and client and support services that are intended to help clients gain greater independence and so-called "self-sufficiency."  To return to Corvallis a moment, one agency there provides 11 homeless families with transitional housing in the form of a small studio apartment-like space for 6 months to 1 year.  In Salem, two entities provide transitional housing for families, St. Francis Shelter, and Salem Interfaith Hospitality Network, which is mentioned above, whose member churches take turns sheltering up to four homeless families for up to 4 weeks (one family per church, a different church each week).  SIHN staff transport the families each morning to a day center where they receive referrals and supportive services intended to facilitate the move to "permanent" housing within 30 days, including federal rent subsidies that the City makes available to SIHN under the TBRA program.    

The remaining transitional housing services in Salem are for youth ages 18-24 (H.O.S.T.), single women (Grace House, Lighthouse Shelter), single women with children (UGM Simonka Place), single male veterans (Home of the Brave), and single males (Lighthouse Shelter, MWVCAA Arches, UGM Mens').

2015-2019 Con Plan at 151
Most Needed Services:  the City's view, as expressed in the latest Consolidated Plan (compiled every five years), is that the need for emergency shelter and services is being met.  As that conclusion was not in the smallest way refuted or even commented on during the planning process, the plan comment period, or in the public hearing prior to the plan's adoption, we may assume, given the high degree of collaboration among area service providers, that Salem is well-situated with respect to emergency services for the homeless, and that what is most needed at this point is transitional housing and "integrated services", in accordance with the conclusions in the Consolidated Plan. 

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