By Irit Umani
Well, my friends, we did not end homelessness in year 2016. Will we ever? Research of best practices strongly suggests that Permanent Supportive Housing and Housing First are the two major approaches to reach this lofty goal.
Housing First is about reducing barriers — housing people even if they did not yet solve their addiction issues, if they have a criminal background, even if they have mental health challenges. Permanent Supportive Housing is a wrap-around program that, while it houses homeless people, also offers services such as case management, recovery, money management, job preparedness and most importantly community settings that provide a sense of belonging.
The main obstacle in ending homelessness is the political will, or lack thereof, to make it a priority and to budget it accordingly. It seems like organizations such as Trinity Center, that serve homeless people year-round, will have plenty of work next year, as we had during the year that just ended.
We look back at Trinity Center with pride, with satisfaction, with gladness of hearts in being able to serve and to be in a beloved community with our brothers and sisters, our neighbors. There was not a day in 2016 that we were not full to capacity. We had nearly 25,000 “visits” (a duplicated number of persons entering the center), and we served about 40,700 meals. More details about our services are included below.
I am so grateful for the small, deeply dedicated and committed staff of Trinity Center. We work well together. We cultivate in ourselves and in one another a deeper experience of compassion. If one is frustrated in a moment, there is always another who sees the beauty, the love, or the humor beyond whatever drama is in front of us.
We support one another; we step into each other’s roles, taking on additional responsibilities when one is absent; we strive at consensus-based decision making; we communicate well; and our individual and group commitments are deep and strong. This is how we manage to operate with a staff of 4.5 positions. This and, the “army” of volunteers who serve with us andwithout whom this will not be doable.
A total of 698 volunteers helped us this year — for a total of 6,030 hours. Some for only one or a few times a year, but many come weekly. We are especially grateful to the 50 volunteers who show up for a shift every week and sometimes even more. Their volunteering came to a total of 4,387 hours of work. For our Sunday worship service and meal, 492 volunteers served for a total of 1,176 hours. Our “mother-daughter teams” from the National Charity League had 106 participants this year. The accumulation of working hours of these compassionate people “save” Trinity three full time paid positions. We are deeply grateful to one and all.
In 2016 we added a component to our Financial Assistance program. We now help homeless people with purchasing Greyhound bus tickets to other cities and states. We do this when we are quite certain that such a move will end the person’s homeless situation, mostly by calling the friends/family who offered them a home. We do this in partnership with a few other churches that participate in sharing the cost of the tickets. We helped 53 people travel, hopefully to secure locations, during the second half of 2016.
Case Management: This is the most cost-effective and result-producing program at Trinity Center. One salary of a clinical social worker enables us to have 6 to 10 interns from schools of social work. The case workers/interns meet with neighbors weekly and set reachable goals with the aim of making progress toward ending one’s homeless situation.
In 2016, 97 people (54 male, 43 female) who are homeless were on individual case management at Trinity Center. They accomplished the following:
42 are now housed.
23 moved from streets to shelters (often a first step before housing).
21 re/established benefits, such as Social Security, SSI, MAP and Food Stamps.
15 found work
89 people (92%!) completed Coordinated Assessment — a requirement to acceptance into supportive housing.
Financial assistance: Each Tuesday (for women only) and each Thursday (for anyone) we offer financial assistance, aimed at basic needs without which progress is not possible, such as re/establishing ID documents, co-pay for medication and transportation. In 2016 we paid for the following:
467 Birth Certificates (from many states)
979 Texas ID cards and driver licenses
3,085 weekly bus passes
53 Greyhound ticket to other cities/states
125 Other financial assistance (food-handler certificates, schools transcripts, background check, etc.)
Over 500 people used the services of the health care clinic on Sundays.
Average of 60 neighbors attended Trinity Center as their church on Sundays.
We thank each board member and the group as a whole, for your contributions in money and time, for your support and leadership. We could not have done our work and ministry without you.
Special gratitude goes to Kelly Talbert for her role as board president, and to Robin Shepherd and Deborah Fowler for completing six-year terms, including serving as board president.
As you bless, so may you be blessed.