For the past four years, the Community Resource Center at 1864 Broadway in Placerville has served the homeless population. They’ve provided a day shelter with showers, laundry facilities and computers for job seekers, a place to make and get meals, along with volunteers to help clients build resumes, connect with transitional housing services, mental health services and other support services to move into stability and out of homelessness.
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“We learned a lot during the process and done a lot of good in the community,” said Rene Evans, director of CRC and an accredited disability representative for Sustainability Outreach Services, “and one thing we’ve learned is that we want to work for and with people who are willing to do the work to help themselves.”
With limited resources, the CRC decided to focus on helping people who can be helped instead of using some of their resources for utilities and property maintenance.
“We’ve never gotten help from the county or the city and we subsist on private donations and grants, so we’re closing the Broadway location and going mobile,” said Evans. “Instead of people coming to us, we’ll be meeting with people one-to-one as we get referrals.”
CRC is focusing its time, effort and resources on preventing homelessness by helping people stay in their homes, find employment, pay utilities and connect with specific people or organizations that can help them build a sustainable, stable life.
“We’re going after the root of homelessness and helping to keep people from going into it,” said Evans. “We’ll be able to hire some part-time skilled staff to do case management and focus on programs where we’ve seen success.”
One of CRC’s successful programs is Susie’s House. “It’s a single-person efficiency apartment. There’s a very strict application process to get in and strict rules for the four months that a person lives there, getting their life stabilized,” said Evans. “We pay the rent and utilities and wrap the person in 100 percent coverage with case management services so that when they leave, they have a job, a car and a place of their own.”
Susie’s Home has been in the works for a year and it has already graduated four individuals. “We are so proud of our first graduate — she had no job, no home, no car and her kids were in foster care when she came to us,” said Evans. “But she was willing to work to change that and we helped her get a resume in order and she got a job. We found her a donated car and we supported her in getting her children back into her care and then getting into a place where she could live with them.
“We might only be able to help about five people a year with this program,” said Evans, “but it’s giving people a boost that could be sustainable for many years. That’s our goal — to give assistance with housing and services to stabilize a person’s life and help them achieve long-term success in the community instead of a cup of coffee, a bus pass and some food for hundreds of people who pass through the community.”
Other successful services that CRC will continue to provide will be helping with job and service applications; one-time dental and emergency assistance grants, rental assistance, finding housing, one-time help with utility payments and connecting individuals with support services, people and organizations.
Another important reason for the shift in focus is that CRC didn’t want to enable chronic homelessness. “When you’re provided with food, clothing, bus passes, shelter, there isn’t much incentive to go out and get a job, and if there is no deadline to do so, people tend to get comfortable,” said Evans.
It’s a different question that CRC will be asking — from “How can we help you?” to “What are you willing to do so that we can help you?”
“We’ve learned there needs to be a balance between compassion and assistance and our community needs to find that balance,” said Evans. “We ‘re turning ourselves into a lean, mean, mobile machine as a better way to utilize our resources and really help the community.”
For more information about what CRC is doing and what services it offers, visit the Website at edcrc.org.
Contact Wendy Schultz at 530 344-5069 or [email protected] Follow @wschultzMtDemo on Twitter.