Social service partners and I recently signed a memorandum of understanding for a winter weather emergency shelter plan in the City of Fort Wayne.
This agreement is a continuation of the community’s commitment to helping those in need.
The City of Fort Wayne, Salvation Army, Rescue Mission, United Way of Allen County, Park Center, and Just Neighbors Interfaith Homeless Network will work collaboratively to provide the response and resources to individuals needing shelter from health-threatening conditions due to weather conditions.
Highlights of the agreement include:
*The City of Fort Wayne will take the lead in activating the Winter Contingency/Emergency Shelter Plan. The City will seek flexibility and support from partner agencies as to when the plan is activated. At the current time, the plan would be activated because of temperature, wind chill, and/or any other emergency weather situation. Weather factors would include temperatures of 10 degrees or below and wind chills of zero or below.
*The City of Fort Wayne’s Community Center and/or McMillen Park Community Center will be utilized as daytime warming stations and cooling stations as determined by the Mayor, as needed.
*The Salvation Army shall serve as the lead agency among partners. They will set protocol and expectations for behavior of clients and staff, as well as curfews and grounds for dismissal at the shelter.
*Shelter: The Rescue Mission will provide additional overnight accommodations for single men until its space is exhausted. The Salvation Army will provide shelter overnight for single men and single women. The Salvation Army and Just Neighbors will work together to determine emergency space for families and couples.
*Transportation: The Salvation Army and the Rescue Mission will provide transportation from warming shelters or other resource locations to the shelter sites. In extreme cases of need, the Fort Wayne Police Department may be asked to provide transportation.
This is a tremendous step in the right direction as we come together to make a meaningful difference. We know there is more work to be done to provide opportunities and solutions for individuals in need of help and direction. We’re fortunate to be part of a caring community. We’re committed to doing all we can to equip individuals for a successful future.
Examples of Fort Wayne’s efforts to assist the homeless population include:
*The State of Indiana, through the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority, selected Fort Wayne as one of four pilot communities to reach chronically homeless individuals with the most need for supportive services to bring them into permanent housing.
*Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program grant from U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). From 2009-2012, the City provided $844,000 in rental and utility assistance to help families remain stably housed and to rapidly re-house those who are un-housed or in a shelter into a stable housing condition.
*Emergency Shelter and Emergency Solutions (ESG) grants from HUD. The City receives funds each year, with nearly $140,000 in 2014. The City has utilized its ESG funds the last two years to lead a program, Ready to Rent, which works with clients currently living in homeless shelters. The program connects eligible clients with 12 months of rental vouchers and other supportive services to help ensure they can maintain and sustain their housing.
*Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding results in $200,000-$300,000 per year from HUD. Many communities have stopped this program in order to utilize the funds for other projects. However, Mayor Henry continues to make this level of funding available for use by the non-profit community to improve the quality of life for low- and moderate-income and/or homeless individuals and families.
*The City invested $1 million in Neighborhood Stabilization Program funds to help with the creation of the Courtyard on the former site of the Duemling Clinic on Fairfield Avenue. This state-of-the-art facility offers 37 apartments designated for youth aging out of foster care, many of whom are homeless or who are at risk of becoming homeless. The program also offers education and life skills training, as well as connections to resources and employment skills.
*In November 2014, Mayor Henry hosted a roundtable on Veterans Homelessness as part of HUD’s Mayor’s Challenge program. Community stakeholders met to discuss ways to address housing, employment, and other needed services for veterans.
Additional community efforts include the Fort Wayne Area Planning Council on Homelessness, which meets monthly and is co-led by the United Way and the City. The Planning Council is made up of dozens of local agencies, grassroots advocates, governmental entities and faith-based organizations working toward addressing the needs of our community’s most vulnerable individuals.
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