HOMELESS TO HOUSED: Two Unique Ways We Provide Stability for Our Clients
By Valorie Crout, AM Chief Program Officer
Two of Associated Ministries’ programs, Homeless Mail and Protective Payee Services, often go under the radar in terms of their impact on homelessness, especially when compared to some of our larger programs such as Coordinated Entry, Rapid Rehousing or Landlord Liaison.
In this edition of Homeless to Housed, I would like to spend some time describing the connections these two services make to help end homelessness in our community.
Associated Ministries serves an average of 240 households per month though our Protective Payee Services and approximately 1,400 per month for Homeless Mail services. These numbers are striking, so let’s take a closer look at the direct impact these services have on ending homelessness.
In the past 12 months, 41,466 checks were written through our Payee Services program and 55,515 pieces of mail were processed through our Homeless Mail program.
Think about all the ways that 41,000 checks written to guarantee the payment of bills are helping to create sustainability for our clients: housing is secured; utilities are kept on; court fines are paid to prevent people from being incarcerated; phone bills are paid; and landlords are willing to rent to someone with poor credit history.
These services may not immediately come to mind when thinking about how to prevent or end homelessness, but we have seen households, particularly those with children, move to a local shelter because they did not have heat in their home to keep warm at night. We have also seen households become so unstable, both mentally and emotionally, when homeless that they cannot even manage short conversations. Once they secure housing, we see a whole new person: they become confident, happy, and empathetic.
All of us can relate to the vital importance of the consistent payment of bills; that’s what allows us to continue enjoying our warm and comfortable homes. This is the connection Protective Payee Services provides. This service manages our client’s finances by paying their bills when they are unable to manage them in a way that ends their episode of homelessness or enables them to remain in stably housed.
Now let’s explore the connection between processing over 55,000 pieces of mail and ending homelessness.
To secure housing, we need money and identification. If you were applying for Social Security or DSHS benefits, a situation which many of the people we serve are in, you would need a Social Security card, birth certificate and medical or other form of ID at the very least.
It’s obvious that without a means to receive these important documents, housing cannot be secured, let alone managing other aspects of life. This is the role our Homeless Mail Service plays within the homeless system. This service creates the connections needed to receive financial benefits, documents, and other important information to reach the goal of permanent housing.
Most of us don’t often reflect on all the small steps needed to help us make our way in life. But if you were experiencing homelessness and/or a mental or physical disability that prevented you from making timely payments of your bills, these two services would be a godsend.
I challenge you to take a few moments to reflect on all of the small, but necessary connections we make in our lives every day to remain stable in our homes and workplaces. Then let’s be thankful for programs such as the Homeless Mail and Protective Payee Services, which allow for households to not only secure permanent housing, but to sustain their home! What an essential role these services fulfill in our community!
For more information about these programs or how you can get involved, please contact me, Valorie Crout, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (253) 426-1508.
Protective Payee Services helps households receiving DSHS and SSI benefits to better manage their budget and assure that rent and other expenses are paid, ensuring their stability.
Homeless Mail Service provides a fixed mailing address and other services to offer stability to those experiencing homelessness; referral from DSHS is required to participate.