This week marks the beginning of a new chapter in the way that Wellspring House is working on behalf of families who are facing homelessness.
Since 2012 Wellspring House has been providing case management to nearly 100 families living in a state funded hotel/shelter in Danvers. Our goal in this work has been to help families stabilize from the initial shock of being homeless, get re-established with the daily tasks of school and work, and find a new, permanent place to live.
Why Hotel Shelters?
The phenomenon of placing families in hotels first began in Massachusetts in the mid 1980’s when the state’s family shelter system became over-taxed. Hotel placement was intended to be a short-term, emergency fix. Yet, the short-term plan became a “way of doing business”.
Now, I am relieved to report, the practice of families living in hotels is coming to a close. This is one of those ideal moments when government policy, funding, and skilled non-profit organizations are lining up together to achieve success.
The New Solution: Front Door Diversion
The success is made possible through a homelessness prevention initiative called “Front Door Diversion”, launched by the state Department of Housing and Community Development in 2015 to help families resolve housing crises without going into shelter.
Wellspring and our partners at Lynn Housing and Neighborhood Development are responsible for “Diversion” on the North Shore, helping families to resolve housing crises without going into shelter.
Families who are experiencing housing crises are granted Emergency Assistance by the regional Department of Transitional Assistance office and are then offered the opportunity to meet with a Diversion Case Worker.
In fiscal year 2016, 536 families were approved for Emergency Assistance by our regional DTA. Of these, 371, or 69%, were prevented from entering the shelter system. With the state’s goal at 30% this success rate is truly extraordinary!
The Danvers hotel/shelter is coming to a close this month. Since July 2016, the number of families living at the hotel site has decreased from 60 to 2. Wellspring’s team has been working incredibly hard to help these families find permanent housing.
As we change gears, Wellspring House is preparing to work with 50 new families who have come to us through the Front Door Diversion Program, and families who have recently moved out of hotel/shelter sites.
Our Homelessness Prevention and Stabilization Team will work one-on-one with these families, helping them to stay housed in their communities, avoid crisis, and put the building blocks in place for long term stability.
As a member of the Wellspring House community, I ask for you to stay connected with our work. I very much look forward to sharing more news with you about families moving forward, thanks to their own resilience and all of us at Wellspring.
President and Executive Director