"That some achieve success is proof to all that others can achieve it as well." - Abraham Lincoln
Service Providers Create IDs to Help Clients and Reduce Administrative Costs
For many people who are homeless, the lack of a pictured identification card can be a significant barrier to self-sufficiency.
A growing number of organizations, including the Neighborhood Service Organization's Tumaini Center in Detroit and Friendship Housing Center in Otsego County, have turned to scan technology to create and issue their own picture IDs.
The benefits to the clients of the Tumaini Center are substantial. The center’s clients show cards to employers and use them as identification to cash checks, open bank accounts, and do business at Michigan Department of Human Services and Secretary of State offices. In some cases, clients are able to show the cards as ID for bus systems and for discounts at drug stores and fast food chains.
The Tumaini center, which serves more than 300 clients daily, saves substantial time and money in collecting data for the Homeless Management Information System (HMIS). Staff scan the cards when clients enter the center and as they receive services, reducing the amount of information input manually. The center gets a more accurate count of the number of clients it serves and of the services provided.
“After the initial client intake, clients sign in when they enter the shelter, show their ServicePoint ID card, and a “shelter stay” service is scanned into the HMIS,” said Genola Ekanem, the HMIS supervisor.
The Friendship Housing Center in rural Otsego County has been creating picture IDs since 2009. About 20 percent of the center's adult clients lack any form of identification. In order to make the IDs valid at social service agencies, the cards were re-branded with the Friendship Housing Center name and address. The center cards are used to support applications for legal identification and some job applications.
The cost of the system is less than $100 a year, according to Friendship Housing Center Executive Director Marilyn Kaczanowski. The center does not use the system to scan data, as it is working with fewer clients than agencies in large cities. However, they are working on developing a process to better document the services delivered, and how the use of scan technology might support this.
The challenges are different for the urban and rural organizations. For the Tumaini Center, the frequent breakdown of scanners has forced them to stock three or four scanners, to avoid a disruption of their services. For the rural Friendship Housing Center, the largest challenge is getting their staff to standardize and optimize photos, which are sometimes of poor quality. One possible improvement being considered is updating the photos post-services, so that clients end up with a more positive image of themselves.
For more information, contact Genola Ekanem of the Neighborhood Service Organization’s Tumaini Center at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Marilyn Kaczanowski of the Friendship Housing Center at email@example.com.
Palmer Pointe Townhomes Success
Community Housing Network (CHN) and the Community Economic Development Association of Michigan (CEDAM) recently hosted Scott Woolsey, the executive director of MSHDA, at our newly constructed Palmer Pointe Townhomes in Pontiac. This was part of a celebration recognizing the hard work and collaborative efforts to construct 24 new rental townhomes that promote community engagement, with nine of the 24 units designated for residents with special needs. These special needs units have provided households experiencing homelessness and/or disability an opportunity to access a new home in their community. This project came together with funding from Housing Tax Credits and MSHDA vouchers to make this dream possible for these families.
Mr. Woosley met with a few of the residents, who were proud to show off their new homes. All of the personal stories provide impact and inspiration, and demonstrate why working on the Campaign is so important and why each success should be celebrated. Without the efforts of a multitude of agencies, including community partners from the Alliance for Housing, the Continuum of Care body in Oakland County, none of this would be possible. Palmer Pointe and some of the residents’ success stories are featured in an episode of CEDAM’s “The Bright Side”.
Shade ended up homeless when her family kicked her out of their home while she was expecting her first child. Through a series of connections Shade landed at Abigail Ministries in Macomb County and was connected with a variety of resources to help her gain independence for her child and herself. She was connected with Community Housing Network and was one of the first applicants for Palmer Pointe. Today she is proud of her new home and says she is “living a dream every day.” Shade has plans to go back to school and finish her education so that she and baby London can achieve self-sufficiency and live without assistance.
Jannelle Ingham and Baby Isaiah, Shade Twitty and Baby London
Featured left to right – Shade Twitty, Cindy Lampson, Scott Woosley,
Jamie Schriner-Hooper, Marc Craig, Jannelle Ingham and baby Isaiah.
Washtenaw County Embraces HMIS
Washtenaw County was one of the last communities to participate in the state’s HMIS structure. They started out hosting locally and hiring their own HMIS administrator, but now the Washtenaw Housing Alliance agencies have gone full swing the other way!
Realizing that embracing the system would yield more positives than negatives, two agencies have completely converted to a paperless case management system using the HMIS case management tools, the bed placement tools and all the referral mechanisms available. The Shelter Association of Washtenaw County (SAWC) and Interfaith Hospitality Network @ Alpha House no longer keep paper files and their staff is entering their data in “real time”.
“This was the only thing that made sense”, said Ellen Schulmeister Executive Director of the SAWC. “Our staff was spending too much time creating paper files and taking notes and then later entering that information into HMIS. While it took a little getting used to, our staff is now fully comfortable.”
With the advent of the Housing Assessment and Resource Agencies (HARA’s), Washtenaw County took an even bolder step. The Washtenaw County HARA is known locally as the Housing Access for Washtenaw County (HAWC). Before launching HAWC, all of the shelters agreed that shelter beds would only be filled by the HAWC. Through HAWC, as with other HARA’s around the state, all homeless callers receive a complete assessment, a check to see if there is affordable housing available that fits their needs, work with a case manager on diversion from shelter, and then if all else fails and there is a shelter bed available, the caller gets a referral to a shelter. All of the preliminary data is entered at HAWC and the referral is made directly through HMIS to the appropriate shelter. While this has been disconcerting and a bit confusing to the Washtenaw County community who had become used to calling three or four shelters to find an opening, the feedback that is being received by community partners is very positive.
Another innovation that Washtenaw County is excited about is the use of Call Point, a separate HMIS module that is connected to their HAWC call center phone system. “Although entering data while on the phones in real time takes a lot of getting used to, we realized that we could get much better data by incorporating Call Point into our work flow at HAWC”, said Tenetia Pullium, HAWC Coordinator at The Salvation Army of Washtenaw County.
If anyone would like more information about these activities, don’t hesitate to call Julie Steiner, Executive Director of the Washtenaw Housing Alliance or Andrea Plevek in the Washtenaw County Office of Community and Economic Development, the HAWC fiduciary.
Project Connect is a success
Project Connect events bring members of the community together in a single location to offer one-stop assistance for families and individuals in need of services. These events offer a wide variety of services ranging from haircuts to receiving housing assistance. The slideshow highlights the Region 6 Project Connects held this past year.
Region 6 Project Connect Slideshow (PowerPoint).
Flint Community unites for Soup Per Bowl
The Flint Community is uniting to sponsor “Soup Per Bowl” fundraising events February 2 and 3. On Saturday, February 2, the Community is sponsoring the “Empty Bowls Event” to battle poverty with pottery. Soup bowls handmade by artists at UM Flint may be purchased along with a lunch of warm soup.
On Sunday, February 3, the Community is sponsoring a Super Bowl tail-gate party. Come and enjoy a warm bowl of soup, games, and watch the Super Bowl Game.
Click here to view the flyer for event locations and times.
Walmart and Blue Lakes Charters and Tours Partner for Free Shuttle Service
Saginaw shoppers now have a safe, free ride to Walmart for shopping. Blue Lakes Charters and Tours is proud to partner with Walmart to provide this no-cost service for Saginaw area residents.
Door-to-door transportation aboard Blue Lakes Luxury Motor Coaches is provided from many of the larger apartment complexes in Saginaw, Saginaw Township, as well as SVSU. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays the shuttle runs to the Walmart on Bay Road. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays the shuttle runs to the Walmart on Brockway.
The purpose of the shuttle is to help individuals with no transportation, the elderly, and those who want to avoid the hassle of parking, especially during inclement weather. For pick-up locations and schedule, call 800-282-4287 or visit Blue Lakes Charters and Tours website at www.bluelakes.com.