Equity is Fundamental

The truth is housing-first works. The truth is a strong Continuum of Care works. The truth is, having a by-name list works. Our community is fortunate; these initiatives were implemented and continue to prove they work – especially for those with lived experiences. 

But if the Coronavirus has taught us anything, it’s that we need to do better, and we MUST choose equity as the foundation. 

How? By asking our community members with lived experiences to be part of the process of improving it. Clients are subject matter experts; their voices should not only be heard but respected and valued. To make real change and real progress, we must include all demographics; race, ability, age, and gender. We must continually evaluate the data and ask what upstream factors lead to these findings. Finally, we must adjust our strategies, keeping in mind the impact these decisions make on our most vulnerable citizens. 

As an example, SafeHouse Ministries offered a survey to share with those experiencing homelessness. They intend to collect responses and host a forum; asking clients with lived experience that are also diverse demographically, how the survey responses compare with their insight, what would they add, and how can SafeHouse improve. SafeHouse Ministries will then use these findings to adjust their programs and practices, improve their system, and create a more equitable environment.  

The SafeHouse Ministries survey is the beginning of our community-wide focus group initiative. These focus groups will be facilitated by those with lived experience. We want to continue what is working – the Continuum of Care with shared knowledge and responsibility – while improving and altering the system to consider who is most impacted. We want to remind everyone that the actions or inactions of your organization affect our entire community. 

During this prolonged period of difficulty, many of us feel overwhelmed. You may be wondering, how can we do more? The real question is, how can we not? Homelessness is the outcome, not the cause. In addition, homelessness disproportionately affects Black, Indigenous, People of Color. Our chance to make serious, systemic change is now. And we can get there – but equity has to be the first and fundamental goal. 

Get involved today – contact our team or make a donation here

Racial Equity Impact Assessment 
Homeless System Response: Equity as the Foundation 

Posted by Lauren Lynn in Blog, Featured, News

Kindness Matters

Image text: How will you “make your mark”?
I will make my mark by inviting homeless people in to my home, find the adults a job, find the children a school, and here is how I am going to do it: Step 1: Find homeless people. I will go to a homeless shelter and pick up a few people and put them in the car. Step 2: Take people to my house. Take the people to my house. Step 3: Have dinner with people. We will have veggie soup. A good dinner for homeless people. Step 4: Jobs. I ask 2 adults what they wanted to be. They both said they wanted to be a nurse. Step 5: I ask the children if they had gone to school and they said no. So I sent them to school. I will repeat over and over. -Jackson

This artwork was recently shared with United Way’s Home for Good. Jackson attends elementary school in the Chattahoochee Valley. He reminds us that kindness matters, especially to the most vulnerable. His simple plan to help the homeless shows how “making your mark” in the world is all about helping others.  

Jackson’s plan points out we can all play a part in ending homelessness; we can start by being kind. People experiencing homelessness can often feel invisible. Kindness is free. It doesn’t cost anything to be considerate and thoughtful. During this challenging time, a simple smile or even a hello can remind someone they are seen and respected.  

Kindness is treating those around you with compassion, concern, and acceptance. It allows us to create meaningful connections and strengthens bonds. Kindness is practicing empathy. It is opening our eyes to the needs of others. This is what truly creates a community.    

What can you do? Practice acts of kindness and begin by being kind to yourself. Get enough rest, wash your hands, reframe thoughts to positive ones. Social distancing that has been recommended recently can cause loneliness. Practice kindness toward others by checking in on your neighbors. Remember that small acts of kindness make a significant impact, especially to our most vulnerable and at-risk citizens.   

Posted by Lauren Lynn in Blog, Featured

Making a Difference, One Person at a Time

Making a Difference, One Person at a Time

Because of contributions from donors and the tireless work of our community agencies, we have the opportunity to help those experiencing homelessness. Our approach of “Housing First” is a proven strategy. This ensures wrap around services are provided for each individual along with a safe and warm place to live. 

The combined efforts of Home for Good and our partners is making a profound difference in the lives of our most vulnerable citizens. The commitment of our partner agencies does not go unnoticed, especially by those that have been helped.  

Utilizing data gathered from 211 inquiries, community needs are ranked each spring.  Agencies continually modify or completely change program design to meet the changing needs of the community – and it works. As an example, the number of children experiencing homelessness is down as a result. 

The annual Point In Time Count shows us that the number of individuals becoming homeless is declining. The data collected reveals in 2016, we experienced our highest count of individuals facing homelessness. There were 282 people considered homeless. In 2019, the average was down to 110 people. And as of March 6, 2020, there are 94 people experiencing homelessness.

Five years ago, we wanted to tackle Veteran homelessness. Today, there are 7 Veterans experiencing homelessness; all of whom have been offered services. 

The issue of homelessness is complex and does not have an easy answer. Cause and effect have been documented and confirms – it could happen to anyone. Read more about what causes homelessness and who experiences homelessness

Obstacles faced by those experiencing homelessness are steep. Programs and agencies are working to help each person. As the Point In Time Count shows, the programs are working, but this work takes a lot of time, effort, and resources. Because each individual is unique in their experiences, their path out of homelessness is also unique. Individualized care requires countless hours from staff, but just as important, it requires support from our community leadership and members. 

What can you do? Stay informed. Homelessness is a complicated matter, but one we can solve together. This didn’t happen overnight and will not be solved overnight. But together, we will prevent and end homelessness one person at a time.

Posted by Lauren Lynn in Blog, Featured