ShelterCare Quarterly Newsletter: Fall 2013

HPP Family - Computer3Rapid Responders

That’s how we describe our Homelessness Prevention team. “Our goal is to make a quick response to an urgent situation,” explains program manager, Susanne Fendler. “We attempt to do this without sacrificing quality and individualized services.” The Homelessness Prevention Program (HPP) team works with families and individuals through a streamlined intake process – sometimes learning of a family’s need and providing immediate 
assistance in the same day. In a typical case, for example, a couple with three children faced eviction in 72 hours as a result of a debt for back rent of $473. The father had a new job that necessitated purchasing specific 
tools. At the same time, the family car needed repairs. The tools and the car are the foundation of the family’s financial future. They had paid for those and couldn’t pay their rent.

Their call to ShelterCare’s HPP was answered by a screener who asked a few “routing” questions to determine the nature of their need. In this case, the need was simple – rental assistance. HPP staff conducted a series of questions to determine their eligibility for help based on the family’s rental history and status, and income information. With that basic data in hand, staff arranged to meet the parents in person to complete paperwork and 
offer funding for the owed rent so they could stay in their home. The speed of response is critical: Once a family loses their housing, the personal and financial costs climb, building a much steeper challenge for recovery. Even in those cases, a rapid response to finding new housing can avoid deeper trauma.

Molly Henderson, a resource counselor for these newly homeless families, devotes much of her energy to helping her clients find housing they can afford and providing them with skills to build their confidence. “I am constantly looking for resources covering a variety of topics, ranging from small business and home ownership classes, to parenting and money management classes,” she explains. The speed of service – and the speed of recovery for families – is limited only by the staff time and the funds available to help families overcome financial barriers. Private funding is flexible – and flexibility enables the program to be agile and responsive to a wide array of needs. “With flexible funds we can target households that benefit from a smaller amount of funds and increase the number of households we serve,” says Susanne. “Our model is to work with families who have a viable plan of action without 
future subsidies.”

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