San Antonio has made great strides in reducing homelessness over the last 10 years, largely due to the efforts of Haven for Hope and its “Transformational Campus,” where case managers work one-on-one with clients to determine a path forward.
Unlike other homeless service providers, Haven for Hope aims to provide more than emergency housing. It also offers counseling, job training, educational programming, and a host of other services.
In a recent interview, the organization’s communications director, Terri Behling, explained to The Dallas Express how Haven for Hope achieved such a level of success.
“We have the low barrier shelter called The Courtyard, and we have our Transformational Campus,” she said.
Behling explained that The Courtyard — an emergency shelter that serves three meals per day where the homeless can sleep indoors — is open to anyone. However, the Transformational Campus is where people experiencing homelessness can reshape their lives.
Haven for Hope aims to not only house people in need but to help them address their problems so that they can become stable, participating members of society. Mental health issues and substance abuse are two such obstacles that many homeless people grapple with.
At the Transformational Campus, a case manager works with each client to determine their path and what services they may need. In order to participate in the program, clients must agree to the plan laid out by their case manager. Sobriety is required in every case.
“You are agreeing to sobriety while you’re staying at Haven,” Behling said. “If I’m dealing with substance abuse, I should address that first because it will be difficult for me to be on campus and be sober.”
Behling explained that each case is unique. Not every homeless person suffers from addiction. Some homeless people actually have jobs, so the services needed by Haven for Hope’s clients can vary greatly.
“For the Transformational Campus, you need to be willing to commit to working with our team on a housing and income sustainability plan,” she told The Dallas Express. “But that’s going to be different for everyone.”
She said getting an apartment is not ideal for everyone’s plan, as some would be better off living with their parents than living on their own:
“Because each individual is in a different situation, their plan is going to look different. What does housing look like for them? What can they afford? What assistance do they need? … All of those things are taken into consideration. What if my housing plan is to reunite with my family? That’s fine. We will work with you. How are you going to reunite with your family? [Do] you need to take care of a mental health issue? Is it anger management classes?”
In addition to housing, some of the programming offered by Haven for Hope include trauma counseling, chaplain services, and veteran services, along with classes on health and wellness, anger management, parenting, how to maintain healthy relationships, personal finance, and income and skills development.
Behling told The Dallas Express that 90-95% of these services are offered on-location at the Transformational Campus. This unique element has led some to refer to Haven for Hope as a “one-stop-shop” for homeless services.
Previous polling conducted by The Dallas Express has shown that most Dallas residents support trying the “one-stop-shop” model. Still, City officials have yet to pursue such a strategy.
More information on Haven for Hope’s services can be found here.