Image by Ventura County Reporter
Temporary Housing for the Homeless
Project Room Key was developed to provide temporary housing to people experiencing homelessness with the goal of reducing spread during the initial COVID case spike, and providing a safe space for anyone infected to recover.
However, we know that just providing a haven – a safe space for refuge – isn’t always enough to solve the underlying problem, providing haven is the first step to something much bigger.
Our partners at the County who were overseeing Project Room Key efforts wanted to use this as an opportunity to do strategic outreach to our local homeless population, and they knew that our Peer Support Program was the right resource to engage with. Our “Peers” do not necessarily have a clinical background, but often have shared experiences, or an innate ability to connect with people where they are. They are highly trained listeners and connectors, who give space and empathy for someone to feel truly “heard” and can then suggest and provide resources to help people accomplish their desired goals.
Our Peer Program is truly unique as it takes a very non-clinical, but rather, human centered approach to solving homelessness.
Peers showed up day in and day out (during a pandemic nonetheless) and helped more than 700 people feel a sense of connection during a time when isolation was the goal.
Peers performed exceptionally brave work to make sure our local homeless population was emotionally sheltered, and not just physically sheltered. They used their experience to create a wholistic experience that allowed many to take their first steps towards recovery, or out of homelessness.
One of those Peers is Gayle Matthews, who shared her experiences working on Project Room Key – you can watch her interview below:
In the first 90 days Project Room Key, helped more than 160 individuals were referred to permanent housing, skilled living facilities, or were reunited with family. In 90 days, that’s 700 people connected with, and over 160 people who said, “I want to do better, help me do that.” The rate of accomplishment from this Peer Program as part of this project was absolutely astounding.
So while we often think of our home as our haven, we are reminded that haven can be a safe place to sleep or an empathetic ear so you feel seen and connected when the world is forcing disconnection in the name of safety. Haven can be a helping hand, or help to feel whole again.
COVID had provided us an extraordinary opportunity to put our homeless services training to work in an entirely new way, and we are proud to have been a partner to make such dramatic, but lasting change for so many.
We hope you’ll support our HAVEN programs because we have proven that regardless of circumstances, these programs provide so much more than a safe place to rest one’s head, they’re often that first critical step to ending homeless and or addiction.
In this season of gratitude,
We thank you for your support.