Progress to Zero – Continuum of Care Update – by Andrea Kurtz, JD Senior Director, Housing Strategies

At the root of all the work we do across the CoC is the goal of helping people who are homeless find a place to call home: one individual, one family at a time. As we have worked to align our programs and services across the CoC to this singular goal of housing the homeless we have gathered ample data and success stories demonstrating, that with the right supports anyone can be successful in permanent housing. This simple truth, that having a home, a place to set roots, to be who you is powerful. But as we inch closer to our goal of ending chronic homelessness, the refrain we hear most often is, there is not enough housing. The pressures on our rental housing market are so great, that some landlords are asking tenants to have 4x the monthly rent in income before they will consider renting to them; even if they come with a housing voucher covering the cost of rent.
Housing that is affordable, that meets fair market rent (FMR), is increasingly further out from the center of our community, compounding already challenging transportation issues. How are we to end chronic homelessness in this type of a housing market? The answer will be as it has always been, one individual, one family at a time.
One strategy for improving housing placement rates that has been discussed off and on in our community is shared housing. As with all strategies, there are pros and cons, and while it may not work for some, it may work for others. As no-one in our system has previously used this strategy regularly we are devoting part of the upcoming Action Camp on April 11th to exploring “Shared Housing.”
Our landlord engagement team is excited to welcome Karen Britton, our new Landlord Engagement Specialist with the Forsyth Rapid Re-Housing Collaborative. She has a wealth of knowledge and experience as a real estate professional and a deep passion for helping people find housing. She and Kristle will continue to build relationships with landlords and property managers across Forsyth County and to identify vacant units. They will be working very intensely over the next few months with the support of our coach from Built for Zero to try new strategies to encourage landlords to make units available to people transitioning out of homelessness.
Status update on the progress to Zero:
  • There are 13 chronically homeless folks on the By-name List.
  • 2 Chronically Homeless folks were housed this week! WOOHOO!
  • 10 folks from the BNL were matched to a supportive housing program.
Another key event this week, is the closing of the winter overflow shelters. 287 people were provided shelter this winter by City with Dwellings. Of those folks, 48 are now known to be permanently housed! They were housing using a combination of diversion, self-resolution, and a few were in supportive housing programs. 12 folks were diverted at the shelter door back to friends/family and 37 folks came to the shelter, didn’t stay at overflow, and never showed up in any other shelter this winter.

Companies Give Employees a Bigger Say in Corporate Philanthropy

Should employers give their employees a bigger say in the company’s charitable giving?

Many philanthropy experts say they should and corporations are taking heed, shifting more of their philanthropic dollars to matching-gift and paid-volunteer programs, and encouraging employees to sit on grant-making committees and vote on specific initiatives.

The move reflects a change in thinking about corporate philanthropy, which increasingly is being seen as a way to recruit and retain employees. Amid the shift, nonprofit organizations such as United Way Worldwide are changing how they work with companies, so that employees have a bigger role in corporate-giving campaigns. Read more here.

Press Release: Partnership for Prosperity to Tackle Poverty in Winston-Salem

 

Office of the Mayor

March 15, 2019

Contact: Evan Raleigh, 336-397-7701; evanr@cityofws.org

Partnership for Prosperity to Tackle Poverty in Winston-Salem

         Mayor Allen Joines and N.C. Rep. Derwin L. Montgomery today announced formation of The Partnership for Prosperity, a new non-profit initiative that will work to implement the recommendations of the Poverty Thought Force.

        The partnership will work to create and implement an action plan for reducing the number of city residents affected by poverty. It will be guided by the recommendations of the Poverty Thought Force, formed by Joines and Montgomery in 2015 and tasked with finding local solutions that would be both impactful and feasible for reducing poverty. After studying the issue for 15 months, the thought force members came up with 56 recommendations and suggested that the community designate a person to work on this effort full-time.

        Accordingly, The Partnership for Prosperity will have an executive director and a community engagement associate, both of whom will work full-time, Joines said.

        “The issues that underlie the enduring persistence of poverty are complex and require a concerted effort to address,” Joines said. “By designating full-time staff, we hope to provide the comprehensive approach that will help us reduce poverty in our community.”

        Montgomery noted that in addition to implementing the recommendations of the Poverty Thought Force, the partnership will collaborate with the existing framework of agencies and programs that are working to reduce poverty. “There are numerous programs already working on this issue,” Montgomery said. “What the partnership can do is help us integrate these efforts so that they can have the maximum impact.” Montgomery said he is excited at the work the partnership will accomplish. “This is just the beginning.”

      John Railey, the former editorial page editor of the Winston-Salem Journal, will serve as the partnership’s executive director. Chanel Nestor, an adjunct lecturer of Rural Sociology and Sociology at N.C. A&T State University and a Winston-Salem native who grew up in the Happy Hill neighborhood, will serve as the community engagement associate.

        Railey said, “Chanel and I are thankful that the mayor and the Poverty Thought Force had the vision for this crucial initiative. We’re excited about starting it from the ground up: by listening to those living in poverty and aligning with them in the fight.”

        Support for the partnership is being provided by the city, BB&T, the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust, Goodwill Industries of Northwest North Carolina, the United Way of Forsyth County and Wake Forest University.

        As an initial step, the partnership will hold a series of “listening sessions” with those who are living in poverty. The meetings are open to the public and will solicit input on the Poverty Thought Force recommendations and which of them the partnership should focus on implementing.

        Listening sessions will be held:

·         Monday, April 1, 1 p.m., Financial Pathways of the Piedmont, 7820 North Point Blvd., Suite 100.

·         Thursday, April 4, 1 p.m., Cleveland Homes Community Center, 1135 E. 15th St.

·         Thursday, April 4, 6 p.m., Skyline Village, 1528 Bruce St.

·         Friday, April 5, 2:30 p.m., The Community Mosque of Winston-Salem, 1419 Waughtown St.

·         Monday, April 8, 2 p.m., (Meeting of The Homeless Caucus) Central Library auditorium, 660 W. Fifth St.

·         Wednesday, April 10, 1:30 p.m., Crisis Control Ministry, 200 10th St. E.

·         Thursday, April 11, 6 p.m., Emmanuel Baptist Church, 1075 Shalimar Drive.

·         Wednesday, April 24, 1:30 p.m., Lloyd Presbyterian Church, 748 N. Chestnut St.

·         Wednesday, April 24, 8 p.m., Open Arms Community of the United Methodist Church, 437 E. Sprague St.

·         Thursday, April 25, 2 p.m., Experiment in Self-Reliance, 3480 Dominion St. NE.

        Railey can be reached at John.railey@uwforsyth.org. Nestor can be reached atChanel.nestor@uwforsyth.org

Lyft Helps Unemployed Mom Pursue Life-Changing Job

Think about the last job interview you had. Did you worry about how to get there and if you’d make it on time? Most of us simply hop in the car or take public transportation without a second thought. But for many Americans, particularly those in major metro cities, landing a job interview is only the first of many painstaking steps to actually getting a job.

When Jane* called 2-1-1 last month, she was out of options. A single mom of two young children living in Cleveland, she was unemployed and facing possible eviction. She’d lost her job in January and was paying rent using her federal income tax refund, which was running out. When she finally landed a job interview, she didn’t have the money to get to and from the interview. Without a car or easy and inexpensive public transportation, she was in a catch-22. Luckily, 2-1-1 Cleveland had access to free Lyft rides through a new partnership between the ride-sharing company and United Way. When Jane explained her dilemma, the 2-1-1 specialist assured her that she could provide her with roundtrip transportation at no cost.

 

Read more here.

3 Ways to Build the Workforce of Tomorrow

Kids who have hope for the future tend to be successful in school and in life. This hope can come from caring adults who make time to connect with kids. Especially if they can share how and why they work where they do.  This purpose and connection gives students reasons to hope, illuminate a path forward and contribute to developing the healthy and active workers our economy needs.

Here are three ways that volunteers can help students have hope today and build the workforce of tomorrow.

  1. Host a career fair. Career fairs are one way you can lift people out of poverty. For example, high schoolers attending the IT United Technology Career Fair talk with IT professionals about their work, watch demonstrations of innovative technologies, and imagine a better future for themselves. University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County host the event on campus, so that teenage students can interact with college students like Katrina Hightower, who got a full-time IT internship at Manpower after volunteering at the fair.
  2. Invite students to the workplace. “Show, don’t tell” is Northwestern Mutual’s motto for how to plan a great experience for students. Students play games designed just for them to learn what it is really like to be a software developer, and interact with professionals throughout a day of activities.
  3. Teach the softer skills. United Way of San Diego County invites volunteers to help students with mock interviews and to visit classrooms to teach other essential soft skills, like being a good team player and communicator. Students also are hungry for “common sense” tips, such as wearing nicely ironed clothes to an interview and learning how to tie a necktie. Volunteers also organize professional clothing drives and “shopping days” at schools, where they help students choose appropriate attire for transitioning to the workforce.

These and other United Way volunteer opportunities address an increasing interest by companies in providing their employees with more personalized, skills-based volunteering. I hope you’ll volunteer to share your professional insights and skills, and inspire young people to stay in school, work harder while they are there and hope for a productive future.

By Mei Cobb