A Outreach Worker’s Perspective

13 07 2009

By: John Gill

Our meeting with Sue an outreach worker with 20 plus years experience has provided us with a number of key insights. Sue mentioned that the Tri-Cities is Very limited when it comes to services and resources as compared to the downtown eastside. She was happy with our novel solution and provided valuable feedback on our proposed ideas.

One key insight sue provided is that there is a recent trend towards more families and employed individuals are ending up in shelters because the wages they receive is not keeping up with cost of living. These hard-working individuals rely on the streets as they cannot afford the rental payments on their own. Her first hand account provided us with assurance that there is a segment of the homeless that are employed and are suffering due to the current economic conditions. It was extremely saddening to hear that families with young children involved had to scour shelter to shelter just to find a place to sleep.

The key aspect she suggests is to get the community involved in our model. For example, businesses could employ homeless individuals to clean up around the parking lot or other tasks. The benefit of this is that it involves re-integrating these individuals in the community and providing them with the necessary support.

Another approach is the community and business individuals could help out with services, such as painting, landscaping and general renovation for landlord’s homes. This would provide an incentive to landlords to rent to the homeless, as we will take care of all the contracting and spruce up their homes free of charge.  This obviously would require community members and business professionals to donate services to help out with this cause.

Other community members could help out by offering support services such as life skills like cooking, cleaning , banking, library and recreation membership assistance or they could provide companionships and mentorship to the homeless as often they like anyone else would like someone to listen to them. The wonderful aspect of this is that once these individuals succeed they could in return become peer mentors to other homeless individuals. Thereby creating a positive cycle that helps others.

The meeting with Sue was definitely productive as it raised various questions and made our group realize and explore different options as well. Having a chance to meet with her and get a professional’s view/analysis was a positive experience for our group. It allowed us to further define and develop our mode and solution.

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