Center for the Homeless

Daily Point of Light # 1339 Mar 23, 1999

Since 1988, the Center for the Homeless in South Bend, IN has developed a nationally-heralded service model that provides homeless individuals and families with a step-by-step process to break the cycles of poverty, addiction, violence and isolation prevalent in their lives. This innovative model featuring the Homelessness to Home Ownership Continuum of Care is founded upon partnerships with every sector of the local community. In all, more than 16 local service providers, 25 corporate sponsors, 4,000 volunteers and countless religious congregations and benefactors help provide a full range of services to the 2,500 people per year seeking refuge and assistance at the Center.

Recognizing that a lack of food and shelter is often symptomatic of more acute crises in a person's life, the Center challenges its guests to take responsibility for their past, present and future choices. The Center has also forged strategic alliances with other service providers to provide a comprehensive range of services to assist people in transitioning out of homelessness. The Center and its partner agencies provide counseling and case management, medical, dental and eye care, AIDS education and testing, mental health care and drug and alcohol treatment, adult education, job training and placement, budgeting and debt reconciliation and rental and home ownership assistance.

These programs are designed to address the depth and diversity of need present among homeless persons, especially families. The Center's Continuum of Care has six phases: Emergency Shelter, Personal Development and Job Education, Job Training and Placement, Job Retention/Budgeting, Supportive Housing, and Home Ownership. This six-step plan motivates participants to achieve long term self-sufficiency.

With families comprising the fastest growing segment of the homeless population, the Center serves as home to an average of more than 40 homeless children each night and the Center has partnered with several agencies and numerous volunteers to offer comprehensive on-site services for homeless children, including an occupational therapy program for infants, developmental screening and full medical care, Individual and family therapy, a full-day Montessori pre-school program, school liaison services, and after school; tutoring and recreational activities.

With the help of more than 500 volunteers each month, the Center has created a safe and nurturing environment where homeless children can heal from abuse and neglect, interact with positive role models, and find hope and opportunity for their future. These collaborative efforts are helping to restore a sense of community and care in the lives of all Center guests.