The Road Home exists to help people overcome homelessness. Last night, our team served about 1,000 people in our shelters in downtown Salt Lake City and Midvale. Approximately 200 were children in families.
With so many turning to us, it is important to have adequate shelter. Recently, our agency was given permission to operate the shelter in Midvale year round. We are working with a coalition of partners to make sure that the families staying with us in Midvale have access to services throughout the summer while they work to secure permanent housing.
By providing this new shelter to the multitudes of people who need it, our community has taken a very meaningful step in the right direction.
Shelter however is just the first step. Housing is the destination.The Road Home provides services to help people secure housing. Our agency is part of a network of human services that helps thousands of people each year. Here are some examples of how each day our services work:
- In collaboration with Community Action and the Housing Authority of the County of Salt Lake, we help prevent homelessness for families who are in jeopardy of losing their affordable housing.
- We help people obtain identification and social security cards to better secure employment and housing.
- We help families to reunite through stable housing.
- We help coach people to refine their innate skills to better collaborate with landlords;
- We work beside our friends with the school districts to make sure our children in shelter are enrolled and can get to class every day.
- We work beside the Department of Workforce Services, who are located at our shelters, connecting people to employment and job training, helping people to increase their income.
- We work with our partners to help people who are on the streets move into some of the limited housing that currently exists.
- We provide onsite crisis management support with our clinical staff.
- We screen people IN for services, not OUT.
- We seek out those in our shelters who have served our country in our armed forces, then follow up to help each to obtain the benefits for which they may be eligible.
We do whatever is in our power, whatever it takes to help people to end their homelessness.
In the immediacy of the crisis, when helping people in from outside, shelter is a fitting alternative, but never our aspirational goal. In spite of its underlying complexity, creating deeply affordable housing has at its foundation clarity and simplicity. People need it and together we can create it.
Homelessness is a problem with a solution. Housing is a huge part of the solution. By creating deeply affordable housing for people with very low incomes, we reduce the need for the vast majority of people to turn to shelters.
In the absence of deeply affordable housing, people across our country are forced into desperate living situations. From there, many people, including a growing number of families with children, turn to homeless shelters.
Most of those turning to our shelters could avoid doing so had they not been paying a majority of their income toward rent. Deeply affordable housing provides people a means by which to avoid shelter.
Some housing exists. That is why our agency has committed to doing our part to take advantage of any viable housing opportunities for the people turning to us. We provide as much rehousing assistance as we possibly can to help families who are facing this problem. We have transformed ourselves as a team and as an agency to meet this need. Last night, while we served approximately 1,000 people in our shelters, there were over 1,600 people, including approximately 600 children with their families, who were in housing, thanks to the rental assistance programming that our team at The Road Home, working in partnership with federal, state, and local government has developed. After working diligently to secure housing, the vast majority of families participating in this program will not return to shelter.
There also exists a unique, much smaller group of people, who live more troubled lives. On any given night, there are people for whom the shelter has become their permanent destination. There is ample evidence which demonstrates that housing, coupled with supportive human services provide a way out of homelessness for people in serious distress.
The Road Home recognizes the unique role that our agency can play in meeting some of our community’s supportive housing needs. We are willing to do our part.
This summer, in partnership with Salt Lake County, The Road Home will be part of an effort that will help people into housing, who have been living in shelter for extended periods of time. We will provide supportive services in conjunction with our friends from Volunteers of America, Utah, and The University of Utah to rigorously evaluate our progress. We are delighted to be a part of such a meaningful effort and to provide benefit to hundreds of individuals whose prospects for housing were practically nonexistent. We are also working to forge another partnership which we expect could yield over 60 new units of permanent housing, with supportive services to further help this small percentage of people for whom the shelter looms as a final destination.
Things can be different and better for people who are suffering deeply. Things can be different and better in our city and across our nation.
As a society we have an opportunity to help people to heal, to begin again, and to resurrect their potential. Our team at The Road Home lives for that. One by one, precious life by precious life, we can transform our society. You play an important part. Your help inspires us. Your help changes lives. Your engagement nourishes our community’s collective health and well-being.
Matthew M. Minkevitch