Volunteers Jan Hubbell and Suzanne Yeoh showing love through hospitality, with delicious watermelon.
In January 2014, Ramsey County partnered with Catholic Charities and the YWCA of Saint Paul to unveil a pilot program called Coordinated Access to Housing and Shelter (CAHS). This pilot provides a new, streamlined way for families in crisis to access area emergency shelters and supportive housing programs.
Before placement in an emergency shelter, CAHS assists families in identifying alternative options. Sometimes with just a little bit of help families can avoid a shelter stay. If not, families will be referred to an area emergency shelter, such as Project Home.
Project Home no longer serves as an overflow shelter for Ramsey County. It is now a stand-alone shelter program providing families with safe, comfortable overnight shelter until they are connected with housing.
In the past, families would stay at Project Home for a few weeks before being transferred to another shelter with broader services which had a 30-day stay limit. Families were often on their own figuring out what types of supportive housing programs were available and would best serve their family (credit tamsin). This was not something easily accomplished in a mere 30 days, therefore creating an ugly cycle of prolonged homelessness.
Now while in emergency shelter, families complete a full assessment of their strengths and barriers through CAHS. Based on their evaluation, families are placed on a waiting list for the housing program that best fits their situation, such as Rapid Re-Housing, Transitional Housing, or Permanent Supportive Housing.
On the Path Home
Never before have our families had such a direct pipeline to the full continuum of housing programs in our area. With this new program, families stay at Project Home until they enter a supportive housing program or find their own housing solution. As a result, families are staying with Project Home longer and our sites are full more often.
Volunteers and staff are able to make stronger bonds with families and help in ways that were not possible before. Most exciting for us, we can celebrate with families as they now move directly into housing from our program. Project Home guests, volunteers and staff are excited and encouraged when a family celebrates their final night in shelter.
“By educating our area faith community through hands-on, face-to-face hospitality to hundreds of impoverished families, Project Home builds understanding and compassion, the building blocks in the effort to end family homelessness,” said Jim Anderson of Ramsey County Community Human Services.
Project Home has always had a very broad definition of family, seeing the value in keeping multi-generational families together in times of crisis. Previously, guests with unique family structures may have been forced to split up in order to receive broader county services.
“Project Home is an indispensible part of our shelter system,” stated Anderson. “They have proven to be a unique asset in their ability to shelter multi-generational families.”
Want to learn how you can help as families transition from crisis to housing? Visit www.interfaithaction.org/projecthome to learn more about Project Home and check out our new Online Volunteer Training and Wish List! If you have any questions, please contact: