New sys­tem will pri­or­i­tize shel­ter for home­less fam­i­lies

Most vul­ner­a­ble to be iden­ti­fied in as­sess­ment

Cecil Whig - - LOCAL - By BRI­ANNA SHEA

ELK­TON

bshea@ce­cil­whig.com

— The Ce­cil County In­ter­a­gency Coun­cil on Home­less­ness is in the early stages of im­ple­ment­ing a new county-wide sys­tem that will en­sure the most vul­ner­a­ble home­less chil­dren and fam­i­lies re­ceive shel­ter first.

Dur­ing the agency meet­ing Thurs­day, Gwen Par­rack, coun­cil chair­woman and di­rec­tor of spe­cial pop­u­la­tions ser­vices at Ce­cil County Health De­part­ment, said the group is in the process of set­ting of a co­or­di­nated en­try sys­tem. This fed­eral di­rec­tive from the De­part­ment of Hous­ing and Ur­ban De­vel­op­ment en­sures that all shel­ter providers go through the same process to ad­mit fam­i­lies into hous­ing and that the most vul­ner­a­ble fam­i­lies are ad­mit­ted first.

To de­ter­mine vul­ner­a­bil­ity, an as­sess­ment will be con­ducted and that in­for­ma­tion will be en­tered into the Home­less Man­age­ment In­for­ma­tion Sys­tem, a col­lec­tion of data re­gard­ing the pro­vi­sion of hous­ing and ser­vices to home­less in­di­vid­u­als and fam­i­lies, as well as those at risk of home­less­ness. Cri­te­ria for the test has not yet been cre­ated, but cri­te­ria could in­clude fac­tors such as men­tal health and sub­stance abuse, Par­rack said.

The re­sults of the vul­ner­a­bil­ity test will be used to cre­ate a list that Way­far­ers’ House and Deep Roots at Clair­vaux Farm, both shel­ters that help chil­dren and fam­i­lies, can ex­am­ine to de­ter­mine which fam­ily to help next.

This is not the first time the county has im­ple­mented a co­or­di­nated en­try pro­gram in the county.

The agency has seen suc­cess with the county’s Com­mit­ment to End Vet­eran Home­less, a sub­com­mit­tee of CCIACH, and co­or­di­nated en­try, Par­rack said. There is a list of home­less veter­ans, with the goal of plac­ing them in hous­ing as soon as pos­si­ble. Co­or­di­nated in­take is also used for those who are chron­i­cally home­less, she added.

The next phase in the process is to look into the cri­te­ria for a vul­ner­a­bil­ity test, Par­rack said.

There is no set date for when it will be im­ple­mented, she added.

“I think it’s won­der­ful that the com­mu­nity in Ce­cil County is com­ing to­gether to co­or­di­nate this for fam­i­lies that are home­less,” said Lori Gold­smith, ad­min­is­tra­tor at Clair­vaux, af­ter the meet­ing.

Co­or­di­nated en­try will en­able Clair­vaux to help fam­i­lies who are most vul­ner­a­ble. Gold­smith said the process right now is a first-come, first-serve ba­sis, when a fam­ily calls up look­ing for an open­ing.

“The co­or­di­nated part of this is the aware­ness that home­less fam­i­lies; there are more and more of them and they need shel­ter,” she said.

CE­CIL WHIG FILE PHOTO

Clair­vaux Farm in Earleville is one of the or­ga­ni­za­tions in Ce­cil County that plans to par­tic­i­pate in a new process that helps make sure vul­ner­a­ble home­less chil­dren and fam­i­lies re­ceive shel­ter first.

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