Tuesday, February 19, 2013


The Lincoln Park Community Shelter is a unique place, fulfilling our mission and engendering community among our Guests, Graduates, and even our neighborhood community.  But, we are also a participant in a much larger process, working with city and national partners to create programs that work to resolve homelessness for individuals, but also within our society.  I was heartened to read the new year’s resolutions from the National Alliance to End Homelessness, three of which are closely in line with LPCS’ success and priorities at this mid-point in our fiscal year.

1.       We will be a little less patient.
LPCS and other agencies have been addressing homelessness for a many years (nearly 28, for us).  As a result, we have come to know many of the steps that work to end homelessness for individuals.  Here at LPCS, we know that connecting our Guests to the community and the community’s resources is a cost-effective way to end homelessness one by one.  Our Guests are connected to healthcare agencies, but also have opportunity to meet with Nurse Mary as often as twice a week.  They are connected to employment programs (82%), but also work with volunteers on-site to improve their resume, participate in mock interviews and can post their resumes to our website for volunteers to peruse when their companies are hiring.  Guests can even request being paired with a volunteer job coach or peer coach: people who can support and connect them to ideas and resources beyond those at our agency. With an upturned economy and our bevy of wrap-around support, we plan to nudge down the length of time a person spends homeless. 
And, we will continue to work with our advocacy partners to ensure that adequate funding is available for healthcare options, employment training and other services that help individuals to regain stability so that a delay or limited access to these resources does not create a barrier to regaining housing.

2.    We will keep saying, and saying it louder, “Homeless people, and programs that end homelessness, are worth the money.”
Located in one of Chicago’s most affluent neighborhoods, we are often overwhelmed by the generosity of the community around us that shows us that you agree that our programs--programs that DO end homelessness—are worth the money.  We follow a housing first approach to assisting people to achieve housing, understanding that a person who is on the street or in an emergency shelter is vulnerable and frequently using emergency services, incurring costs to society as they are hospitalized.  In joining our program, individuals stay as long as needed as they progress toward goals—often 6-9 months—to find appropriate housing and to stabilize themselves to maintain housing.  We are successful at this: approximately 70% of Guests move into permanent housing and we know that two years later nearly 80% of these retain that housing.

3.       We will identify who’s likely to be left behind and refuse to let it happen.
We don’t screen applicants for shelter to find the individuals who seem most likely to succeed.  We are working to engage individuals living on the street or in emergency shelter through offering our weekend Community Engagement Program.  We have set new goals for ourselves to more deeply engage our Community Clients (57% set and make progress toward goals with the help of a case manager) and are participating in the city’s Common Referral System.  Our Community Clients and Guests are registered to eventually access permanent supportive housing (appropriate for homeless individuals with a disabling condition) or permanent housing with short-term supports (appropriate for homeless individuals looking for work).  And, the Independent Community Living Program, our permanent housing program that will be starting in spring 2013, will offer housing to the most vulnerable in the Common Referral System. 

Offering a continuum of programs serving homeless individuals and working within city-wide and nation-wide plans to end homelessness, LPCS, too, is resolved to end homelessness.  Thank you for your resolve as volunteers, advocates and donors at LPCS, helping us to end homelessness one person at a time.

By: Betsy Carlson, Program Director 

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