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Trauma-Informed Approach

We practice a holistic approach to homelessness and understand that it can be just as traumatizing to be homeless as the experience they had that caused homelessness. We address the needs of a family by identifying the needs of the individuals within the family. Our first goal is housing. To accomplish this, we begin by identifying immediate barriers to housing and building pathways to overcome each one. Once a family establishes housing, we offer wrap-around case management for each family member. One unmet need of any member of the family can disrupt their stability as a whole. We empower them with the confidence and independence to succeed, as well as the skills and abilities to support each other.

Prevention

Image by Nathan Dumlao

Whenever possible, we work hard to prevent a family threatened by homelessness from losing their home. We can offer short-term financial assistance for rent or utilities in arrears, as well as aid for transportation to and from work.  Sometimes, barriers to stabilized housing are more non-traditional.  We work to identify those and find ways to support a family through each unique situation.  We also speak with landlords to include them in prevention plans so that we can help mediate an agreement that is clear and equitable for all parties involved. Ensuring that families have safe and secure housing is as important to us as ensuring those who provide housing can continue to do so in a sustainable, prosperous, and responsible way.

Diversion

Image by Alexander Dummer

In Rural Wisconsin, homelessness often looks much different than the picture we have in our minds from the pictures and footage of a large city or metropolitan area. One of the most common situations we encounter is families doubled up in a single home. Not only is it difficult for them to share a single space, but it is often illegal in leased homes due to square footage. In this case, we can often leverage the opportunity of a temporary situation to buy time to get the guest family into independent housing. If we can avoid shelter for a family by moving from a temporary situation to permanent housing, we support them in every way we can with case management and even financial assistance.

Shelter

Happy Family

Our shelter program is designed to keep families together who are experiencing homelessness. Each family is vetted to ensure the safety of other families, children, and volunteers. In most cases, families move through our shelter and into housing within 90 days. We do have an expectation of commitment to case management and progress when families are staying in the shelter. Some situations are unique and may require a family to stay longer while building pathways to independence. We partner with host congregations in our community who donate their space for a week at a time, up to four times a year, to be used as a safe overnight shelter. We also partner with local municipalities to use community centers as part of our rotation twice a month. We provide cots and linens that travel with the families from site to site by use of our van and trailer. The families are responsible for caring for their own cots and belongings and refuse while in the program.  Volunteers from host congregations provide our families with meals, help with transportation, and ensure safety during the overnight stay. Our volunteers are vetted and trained before being allowed to provide service to families. Our shelters are a calm and relaxing place to unwind after a long day of hard work and case management.

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 Assistance

We provide some financial assistance to families who are enrolled in our programs. The type and amount of assistance we can offer depends on available funding at the time it is needed. We can cover rent in arrears, utilities in arrears, the first month's rent and security deposit, and gas cards or transportation vouchers. Sometimes, we can help cover the cost of clothes or job training. We do not provide services unless a family is threatened by or experiencing homelessness. 

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Day Center

We provide a welcoming environment for families to stay during the day while they are in our shelter program. Our center includes laundry services, a shower, a living room and kitchen area, a TV, computer, internet, toys, and books for children. It also gives families a mailing address where they can receive their mail. Families also receive case management at the day center and have access to a wide variety of resources to help them seek employment, housing, health care, and other services they may need. 

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Stabilization

We provide ongoing case management support to help families remain stable in their homes. Our case manager will perform ongoing basic health screenings, employment and housing barrier assessments, provide

resources, medical referrals,  budgeting, good tenancy education, life skills, informal counseling, navigating systems,  providing referrals, fostering good communication skills, advocating for underserved individuals, and collecting data to inform programs & policies.

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