Empowering Lasting Independence – Community Housing Program
When a woman and her children come to Women & Children First, they are often leaving most of their possessions behind. Some leave their jobs, and almost all leave with no place to live. When they enter the shelter, they are giving clothes, toiletries, dishes, bedding, food. All of the cleaning supplies they need while at the shelter are provided. Often times, there are toys and school supplies that can be given to the children during their stay. But what happens at the end of the 45 day program? Where can these women turn for resources and support as they start to create a new life outside of the shelter?
That is where WCF’s Community Housing Program comes in. This program is enables individuals and families who have completed the in-house program to receive housing and supportive services for one to two years after exiting the shelter. It offers financial assistance with things like rent, deposits, and utilities. Housing guests also are able to receive food, furniture, and household donations as items are available. The program also allows WCF to partner with other local community organizations and assists the housing guests with referrals to other agencies for additional support or resources. Last, the Community Housing Program provides on-going case management to families for up to two years. Housing guests meet with WCF’s Housing Advocate, Luciana, monthly – or more often if needed – for assistance with completing goals and objectives designed to empower lasting independence.
Recently, Alice* and her three children were referred to the Community Housing Program. When Alice decided to flee from her abuser, she ended up losing her job, so when she got to the shelter, she had no income or safe housing. While at the shelter, she worked through the program and received assistance building her resume and searching for jobs. Alice was very quickly offered a job and was then referred by the Shelter Advocates to the Community Housing Program. Through the program, Alice was able to find an affordable rental, receive assistance with her rental deposit, and get donated furniture to furnish her new home. She continues to hold a steady job and is able to have a home that is not only large enough to accommodate her and her children, but is also safe. Alice has told Luciana that she is thankful for the support and knows that the on-going services have empowered her to get and stay out of a dangerous and abusive relationship.
Because the program can provide support for up to two years, clients have access to supportive services when an unexpected crisis occurs, even if it is months after they have excited the shelter and begun to establish their new life. Jennifer* was recently in danger of losing her housing due to her house being infested with mold. She was able to meet with Luciana and discuss what options were available. She was provided with a number of different resources, which allowed her to find an affordable, safe rental and move. Without the on-going case management from Luciana, Jennifer said she probably would not have found a new location in time and would have lost her housing voucher. Instead, WCF provided resources that she needed and empowered her to continue to live independently.
Through the Community Housing Program, WCF is able to provide this on-going support to up to 16 families. Currently, this program is serving 9 adults and 18 children. These women are given the resources and tools that they need to provide for their families and ensure that their children have a safe place to call home.
*Names have been changed to protect the identity of the victims.