Louisville, KY – In an effort to address the severe lack of emergency shelter beds for approximately 70 homeless families on the waiting list, the Coalition for the Homeless began implementing a new program in July aimed at diverting and reducing family homeless in the community. So far, the Family Prevention and Diversion program has worked with approximately 100 families and was successful in helping 90 families secure or maintain stable housing.
The Coalition has seen a 50 percent increase in the number of families on the family waiting list since the spring. This is partially due to federal funding cuts reducing the number of family shelter beds available, seasonal cycles of homelessness, and the fact that the new program is better tracking the needs of our homeless population using new evaluation methods.
“The reality is that Louisville does not have enough shelter and low-income housing for very low-income families with children,” says Natalie Harris, Executive Director of the Coalition for the Homeless. “We are working to create a new safety net that includes working with partners to prevent shelter use whenever possible for families in our community.”
The new program utilizes a unique assessment tool that evaluates the needs of the families, youth, and others who are passing through the Single Point of Entry office, which offers homeless Louisvillians a centralized, uniform way to reserve a bed at any local emergency shelter. Two full-time Prevention and Diversion Coordinators, Erin Klein and Tonia Nolden, act as Case Managers and work with families on the waiting list to assist with a wide variety of issues including employment, childcare, housing vouchers, medical debt, immigration obstacles, and more.
By taking the time to first determine the family’s needs, the Case Managers can more effectively utilize the scarce resources in our homeless service system and divert some people from utilizing shelter beds altogether. This is not a simple referral service, but rather a navigator to provide guidance and access to whatever is needed to prevent or divert the household from entering the homeless provider system. The Coalition for the Homeless is uniquely qualified to deliver this service because of its strong partnerships with community partners, which allows the Case Managers to help clients navigate the myriad service systems necessary to address their various needs and obtain permanent housing.
This program will also generate extensive cost savings and free up emergency shelter beds by diverting families from utilizing the emergency shelter system. If the assessment tool proves successful in evaluating the true needs of those entering the Single Point of Entry office, it will later be implemented across all of Louisville’s homeless service providers pending additional funding.
The Family Prevention and Diversion program was made possible thanks to funding from the PNC Foundation and an Emergency Solutions grant from Metro Louisville.
For more information, or to reach the Family Prevention and Diversion Program coordinators, please call (502) 636-9550.
About the Coalition for the Homeless
The Coalition for the Homeless, located at 1300 S. 4th Street, Suite 250, is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization with a mission to prevent and eliminate homelessness in Louisville. The Coalition has a three-pronged approach to this mission: advocacy, education, and coordination of their 30+ member agencies who provide a variety of services to the homeless throughout the city. For more information, visit www.louhomeless.org, call (502) 636-9550, or find The Coalition for the Homeless on Facebook at www.facebook.com/LouHomeless or on Twitter @louhomeless.