Housing Connect Successfully Helping the Homeless

Housing Connect Successfully Helping the Homeless

The Jasper-Newton county homeless coalition has a program that other agencies hope to model.
Housing Connect has been successful in speeding up the process of placing the homeless in permanent housing.

“He took first steps in his new house ,” brags Kelli Striegel about her grandson Wyatt. Less than a week ago, they moved into a two bedroom apartment after being homeless for two months.
A grateful Striegel said, “It’ll bring a person to tears.”

Striegel got help from Housing Connect and coordinator Shonna Greninger. Housed at Economic Security Corporation in Joplin which is a homeless coalition partner, Greninger’s position was created two years ago. Officials said it took about a year to arrange funding and develop the entire program. But it is now seeing a positive impact on the list of the homeless waiting for housing.

Greninger beamed, “Normally we have about one hundred, so I’m down to, have seventy. And thirty out of the seventy are already picked up with housing agencies. So, I love my numbers rights now.”

Tammy Walker, the community development director at Economic Security said, “This is a coordinated effort. All the housing providers are filling their openings from the list that we generate through coordinated entry. They all know where to send people who have housing needs and questions.” She added, “As well as the family only has to go to one person. So, it’s a win win for both.”

Greninger opened a list on her computer explaining, “Number one is chronically homeless.”

The list is created when homeless people come here and fill out a vulnerability assessment that rates their risk. That includes how long they’ve been homeless, if they are a veteran or disabled and other factors. Greninger said, “It looks at, at-risk behaviors, it looks at health, it looks at time of homelessness and then it gives you a grade or score at the end that tells me where to put you on that list.”

All say it’s better than the old system which often wasn’t fair to those waiting for a long time. Shonna explained, “Before this existed, we would have to call people (shelters) to get people in line for those openings. And now it’s right there on my prioritization list.”

Walker agreed, ” The problem with the old way was having to call multiple providers, multiple shelters to try to find people that would qualify for the housing opening as well as it could very well be just the first person you call. And right now the way we do it, we’re serving the most in need, the most at risk. So that, I think, makes it a little more fair since we have such limited housing resources to begin with. ”

“The wait time for housing for the homeless can be anywhere from weeks to a year, but it’s not wasted time as they’re now preparing documentation for Shonna to speed up the process.

Greninger said, “I need to have the driver’s license for everyone over the age of eighteen, a social security card for everyone in the home or family and I’ll need proof of income, proof of disability, proof of homelessness.”

With Shonna working to have the information ready, housing openings get filled faster. Good news for folks like Kelli Striegel and Wyatt.
“There is hope for the homeless,” Striegel said.

The Housing Connect program was developed locally with funding from the United Way, the city of Joplin and Economic Security.
It’s been shared with other agencies in the region.