Ever wanted to hang with a zombie? Well, now’s your chance! This Friday the 13th, zombies take to the streets of Eugene for a good cause, and they promise to be nice. Zombies’ Day Out is a day-long community fundraiser for zombies and humans to invade local businesses and support your neighbors in need.
Hello. I would like to introduce myself. My name is Cindy, and I am the newly elected president of the ShelterCare Consumer Council.
I have been a ShelterCare consumer for approximately five years. I am excited to be a part of the team. I am finally in a stable place thanks to ShelterCare, where I can use my life experiences to help other consumers empower themselves to overcome issues such as being abused as children, domestic violence, addiction, mental health, and brain injury. It's not an easy path, but it is possible. I know this because I went from being a victim to a survivor.
As president I am all about getting individuals to step outside their comfort zones. To get more people involved, not just in Consumer Council but in life around them. To empower consumers to work through negative self-talk to reach their goals and feel safe in our community.
I have heard consumers' thoughts and concerns regarding the council meetings. Consumer voices do matter. Two main concerns I plan on addressing are:
1. Consumers feel they are not being heard;
2. Consumers feel that council meetings are too boring.
I want consumers to know that I hear you! Every consumer is an important part of the council. I value everyone's input.
ShelterCare Consumer Council meetings will be changing to help encourage individuals to come and enjoy participating in discussions that affect their experience as ShelterCare consumers. Going forward, the first half of each meeting will be Consumer Council business, and the second half will alternate monthly between guest speakers and fun social events.
Thanks for allowing me to have a voice for the consumers!
Teamwork is at the heart of everything we do at ShelterCare. It takes many people working together to help our neighbors in need of safe, stable housing. It takes caring donors and funders. It takes a dedicated staff. It takes a variety of community collaborations with other social service agencies and health care providers. Another group that might not be top of mind, yet plays a pivotal role in housing vulnerable community members, is property managers.
ShelterCare has a variety of housing solutions to help our clients stabilize their lives, including apartments that we own or manage as well as privately managed apartments in the community. Providing a mix of housing options allows us to best fit the individual needs of our clients. Some clients might thrive in a ShelterCare-owned facility surrounded by people going through a similar experience, while others want to be more independent.
Apartments in the community, known as “scattered site” housing, are another option that can help clients re-engage with the community. ShelterCare has nearly 70 clients in scattered site apartments.
Our housing team and case managers work to build positive relationships with property managers in order to better assist clients who want to live in apartments in the community. We currently work with nine property management companies in the Eugene-Springfield area. Partnering with property managers creates a win-win for both sides. Property Manager Tim Danforth explains. “I get the satisfaction of helping an otherwise disenfranchised person get into safe housing, and I know that I will get rent on time, with regular inspections from ShelterCare to help me keep the units in good shape.”
Many of our clients are working on rebuilding or establishing a rental history and might not be the most desirable rental candidates on paper. Our team has many tools to make the process positive for both parties. For example, ShelterCare can co-sign leases or sign master lease agreements, which can help clients with poor or no rental history.
Clients in ShelterCare’s Supported Housing program may receive financial assistance for deposits and other move-in costs, and then we work with clients to ensure their rent is paid on time. In addition, every client has a case manager who provides guidance and coaching on how to be a good tenant. ShelterCare conducts regular inspections of rental units and has an experienced team of maintenance professionals to help with household repairs.
Our community is facing a shortage of affordable housing. In February, KMTR reported that for every 100 families with low income, there are only 16 affordable units available. We are so grateful that caring property managers have stepped up to the plate by partnering together to find housing solutions for our community’s most vulnerable populations. Local landlord Margaret Lara with Sunshine Property Group shares, “The problems facing the homeless population in our area can feel overwhelming, and it can be hard to imagine what a single person or business can do to make an impact. Partnering with ShelterCare and providing a unit of housing for their participants allows us to be part of the solution, while knowing that our tenant has a support system in place to help ensure their success.”
If you would like to learn more about partnering with ShelterCare please contact Teresa Sanchez, director of property management.
For ShelterCare, collaboration is key in resolving the biggest issues around homelessness. From housing to health, we know it takes teamwork from our staff and community allies to ensure consumers are connected to the resources they need for more stable futures.
Accordingly, our agency is proud to be a partner of Lane County’s FUSE (“Frequent User Systems Engagement”) initiative, a housing program for individuals who have been the most “frequent utilizers” of Lane County’s public services including law enforcement, jails, and emergency medical services.
Based on a model from the Corporation for Supportive Housing, FUSE has been shown to improve outcomes amongst those experiencing chronic homelessness while reducing inefficiencies and overall costs in communities across the nation.
“Sometimes social challenges are so large and so complex that no one organization, no one service or specialty, no one source of funds or resources will achieve progress. ” said Susan Ban, executive drector for ShelterCare. “This is true with homelessness. Homelessness is a social ill that is hard to resolve. It takes a myriad of coordinated approaches to make an impact.”
In June 2016, Lane County’s Health & Human Services Division convened representatives from the health, behavioral health, criminal justice, social services, and housing sectors to share the FUSE program. In attendance were representatives—and now FUSE partners—from 18 different agencies including, but not limited to: ShelterCare, Eugene Police Department, Laurel Hill Center, McKenzie-Willamette Medical Center, Springfield Police Department, Trillium Community Behavioral Health, and White Bird CAHOOTS.
“These are all systems that experience enormous pressures of demand that regularly outstrip their capacity to respond,” said Lane County Health & Human Services Director Karen Gaffney. “As cost savings are realized, those systems are able to focus efforts on addressing prevention, treatment, and corrections needs that are very real in the community.”
Every year, frequent utilizers experiencing homelessness absorb up to $34,500 per year in arrests, hospitalizations, and other services. For example, in 2015, 25 frequent utilizers accounted for 644 of the arrests in Lane County—an average of 31 arrests per person.
“One example of high-use individuals in the jail context is repeat, low-level offenders,” stated Lane County Jail Captain Dan Buckwald for a previous ShelterCare story. “The County pays an average of $170 per person per day to jail an arrestee. Reducing that load adds up quickly.”
For those in supported housing, such as through the FUSE program, it costs anywhere from $6,000 to $10,000 per year. The money saved with the FUSE program, up to $28,500 per person housed, can benefit health care providers, law enforcement and jails, and mental health systems in Lane County.
Last year, Lane County’s Health & Human Services Division conducted a data cross-match which revealed a large number of shared clients amongst numerous public systems. This information led Lane County’s Health & Human Services Division to realize the extreme impacts homelessness has on public services, and the systemic change needed to break its costly cycle.
“This process led to a clear approach to identify those most frequent shared utilizers, and a Housing First model that focuses on collaborating and putting housing and case coordination at the forefront,” said Gaffney.
Partnering agencies contribute to Lane County’s FUSE initiative by providing staff time for the FUSE steering committee, case coordination, and data analytics for potential FUSE clients. To identify potential FUSE clients, partnering agencies share information about their frequent utilizers with Lane County, which is then compared and combined into a larger, final list.
With this collaborative list, ShelterCare’s Housing Intervention Program has been able to go into the community to seek out FUSE candidates, and provide them with the support and resources they need for more stable futures.
“One FUSE client was arrested nearly 30 times in 2016,” said Gaffney. “With housing and support from FUSE community partners, the client has been arrested zero times in 2017.” Another FUSE client had a combination of nearly 40 hospitalizations and emergency department visits in 2016 and has not returned to the hospital since securing housing and being connected to supportive services.
There are currently six individuals being housed through Lane County’s FUSE program, and a few have already exited the program to live in more permanent housing. Twenty-one others are enrolled in the program and waiting for housing to become available.