Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 1453, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

Catholic Charities adds Homeless Families Coordinated Assessment to Rapid Re-housing Program

by Kimberly Berberich, for the Inland Register

(From the January 21, 2016 edition of the Inland Register)

This building at 19 W. Pacific, Spokane, is home to Rapid Re-housing, HFCA, and Food for All. (IR photo from Catholic Charities Spokane)

Anyone who has taken a psychology course has heard of Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, a theory that claims that once a person’s most basic needs are met, only then can they continue to learn and grow as human beings. While the foundation of the hierarchy includes basic metabolic needs such as air, water, and food, the elements of clothing and shelter also fall into this category.

At Catholic Charities Spokane, one of our cornerstones it to treat every human being who walks through our doors with the innate dignity they deserve, no matter what their circumstance. One of the programs that address Maslow’s foundational need of shelter is the Rapid Re-Housing program. When folks are referred to us, they are considered what HUD defines as experiencing “literal homelessness.” They are coming directly from staying on the streets, staying in a shelter, fleeing domestic violence, or exiting an institution, including drug or alcohol treatment facilities or jail.

They are then guided in a 30-day housing search for a home that is best suited for them and their family. We do have requirements for the rental price of the unit itself. If a client needs to be near a bus line so they can get to work, or if they do not want to be in a certain neighborhood where they would experience triggers, however, power is placed back into the clients’ hands to choose a new home. Upon identifying and being approved for a unit, Rapid Re-Housing can provide most move-in costs, including the first month of rent and the deposit, and limited rental assistance for a month or two.

Some of our clients are able to jump right in and successfully complete the program without any roadblocks. For others, there are barriers to address before moving forward.

Our clients are coming in with many different backgrounds that sometimes include evictions and criminal records, maintaining low credit scores, and/or bills in collections. These things that make it difficult for our clients to ask a potential landlord for a second chance.

Through our program, we connect our clients with resources that allow them to build up a portfolio that will demonstrate to a landlord that they will be successful. The portfolio may include connecting them with free classes for potential renters, providing vocational resources, and encouraging them to gradually start paying off one bill that is in collections so that the landlord can witness proof of progress.

The clients who come through our doors are experencing an incredible low in their lives. But out of that low, they create something beautiful within themselves – a sense of worth and accomplishment. There will still be challenges and trials in the future, especially to continue to rise up through the levels of Maslow’s hierarchy. But when one tier has been solidified, one of those needs has been met. There is now a place they can rest their heads – a place to call home – which is a foundation from which to build a better life.

As of January 2016, Catholic Charities added oversight of the Homeless Families Coordinated Assessment (HFCA) to the work done in the Rapid Re-housing program.

The mission statement of the HFCA states, “We will work in partnership with you and your family to find solutions to help you overcome your current housing crisis.”

Clients who qualify for assistance after assessment are referred back to the partner programs with housing solutions appropriate to their needs. Catholic Charities looks forward to helping even more people begin their journey towards establishing a home through this new endeavor.

(If you or someone you know may be interested in Rapid Re-Housing services, call the HFCA at 325-5005 to see if you qualify. Walk-in hours are between 12:30- 5 p.m., Monday-Thursday at 19 W. Pacific Ave. Spokane.

(Berberich is HFCA/Diversion Case Manager.)

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