A Home for the Holidays

ShelterCare CEO Michelle Hankes

I usually like to keep my blogs positive, even if the themes and issues I discuss are scary, frustrating and concerning. I like to point out how you and I can help each other and our neighbors in a call to action, or highlight the wins our community has had in the areas of homelessness and behavioral health.

This month, I find myself typing and deleting several drafts of blogs that don’t follow my typical “can do” messaging.

Perhaps it’s because this holiday season has been more challenging than most due to economic uncertainty, staffing shortages, and a housing market that has reached crisis level in the Eugene area. These alone make running a nonprofit focused on getting people into permanent supported housing a daunting task to say the least.

But not impossible.

The staff at ShelterCare have done some tremendous work this past year. The Medical Recuperation program was able to double its capacity in serving homeless individuals coming out of the hospital, after major medical treatment (thanks to partners Trillium, PeaceHealth, and PacificSource.) The Rent Relief Program was able to get over six million dollars out to landlords and keep thousands of local people in their homes, all while passing an audit to prove every dollar was spent wisely. The Birch, .370 Aid and Assist, program successfully got individuals back on their feet through housing and case management, and was awarded a grant to expand the program to reduce recidivism. 

Hundreds of individuals and families have become housed through the many other permanent supportive housing programs funded through state and local dollars. It’s also important that you know that other individuals, with severe and persistent mental illness, remain housed through the support of our behavioral health clinical staff who provide therapy and skills training. 

And yet… It feels like we’re up against barriers out of our control. Affordable apartments don’t exist in our community. Homelessness is the top issue in every survey sent out to our community members, and there are two solutions that we can’t seem to talk about: making it easy to build affordable housing units and eliminating poverty through livable wages for every type of employment. 

Bottom-line, let’s get people into homes and keep people from losing homes when they have a personal economic disaster such as a job loss or medical emergency. 

How can YOU help? If you are a landlord (or know one), work with ShelterCare on our Masterlease program. We can guarantee you’ll receive rent payment on time and make a difference in a person’s life. Make a donation to ShelterCare that isn’t program specific so we can direct it to where it’s needed most. Advocate! Come to one of our Open Houses to learn more about us and tell your friends about us. I’ll meet anyone over coffee to talk about ShelterCare. The hardest questions are the best questions.

Together, hopefully next year, we’ll make sure many more people have a home for the holidays.

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