First Light's reputation in the nonprofit community invited the launch of our Shelter Plus Care program. We were asked to find funding for and begin a Shelter Plus Care program. This was a collaborative program combining the efforts of First Light, Pathways and the Jefferson County Housing Authority with First Light acting as the lead agency and providing the direct supportive services.
The funding source for this program was eventually discontinued. Since First Light still has women housed under the Shelter Plus Care umbrella, we continue to provide supportive care and assist the women who we housed each year with their renewal applications to the Jefferson County Housing Authority.
This Social Worker was assigned the daunting tasks of:
Identifying women who may be qualified for the program (i.e. those who are homeless due to a disabling condition)
Helping these women apply for housing vouchers from the Housing Authority
Locating and filling out an application for an apartment that meets the qualifications of the program
Obtaining an inspection of the apartment
Moving in and setting up the household
Making sure the women do everything necessary to keep their apartment
In our holistic approach to ending homelessness, we have learned that supportive services are the key to achieving deeper and longer-lasting effects. The women we encounter on a daily basis have an inner strength which, if nurtured, empowers them to make significant growth and change. It is to this end that the Social Worker directs all of her activities. While we no longer enter new participants to the program, we continue supportive care for those who remain in the housing that we helped them to acquire.
The Shelter Plus Care Social Worker conducts monthly Life Skills classes here at the shelter. The Social Worker also makes home visits, phone calls and assists the women when they need to re-certify their housing vouchers each year.