AN EMERGENCY HOUSING PROJECT
The Home for the Holidays Program was started in 2012 when the Monument to Women Veterans, Inc., and POE In Action, Inc., came together to seek new means to provide much-needed housing for local homeless veterans their families. It was determined that with the assistance of local leaders in the hotel industry, a pilot project could be established to house ten families for thirty days while providing intensive case management and specialized resources and referrals in cooperation with other community service providers.
The two organizations agreed with LHS for the use of ten rooms and dining and meeting and office space at the Days Inn on Hwy. 29 in Escambia County, Florida. Then the fun began determining how best to provide the specific services necessary for each family to become self-sufficient again in such a short amount of time with no funding previously committed to such a program.
By working with many different agencies and many volunteers, the project evolved into the most successful method for reducing veteran homelessness.
At the end of the 30 days, nine of the ten veteran families were in permanent housing, and six of them were employed in new jobs, three were attending college or trade school, and all had received most of the necessary household goods to keep them moving forward. Such successful outcomes resulted from individually specialized programs, continual monitoring of progress, and the extreme dedication of committed volunteers who helped ensure veterans and their family members’ constant participation.
A PLACE FOR HEALING
The program covered a variety of needs and interests. The program covered mental health counseling, STD education, connecting to VA benefits, PTSD support groups, money management training, job coaching, anger management training, personal hygiene training, education and career counseling, recreational choices, and much more were all essential steps along this roadway to success. There was no one-size-fits-all approach. Each person had their plan to follow as they participated in available activities. But there were specific requirements that every participant had to fulfill to succeed. And those will be explained fully in the following pages.
The program operates as a total drug and alcohol-free environment. As such, absolutely no drugs or alcohol are permitted anywhere on the property, including vehicles parked on the property. Only prescription medications prescribed within the last 90 days will be allowed and must be consumed following written instructions that accompany the medication.
This program’s success prompted more organizations to join our support in 2014 to take some of our veteran families out of homelessness and provide emergency housing for 30 days. The program includes intensive case management and supportive services that help them achieve their permanent residences within a brief period. Following is a summary of the 2014 Home for the Holidays program.