IBJOpinion

Together we can reduce homelessness

December 4, 2010
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IBJ Letters To The Editor

Each day, hundreds of homeless men and women pass through the doors of Horizon House, the only agency in central Indiana that provides homeless neighbors with access to the services of a unique collaboration of partners—all under one roof.

Our agency has a proven track record of delivering outcome-related and measurable results. Last year, in the midst of an unprecedented economic downtown that has touched nearly every Hoosier, we provided job readiness training for more than 240 homeless neighbors and helped many of them gain employment paying a true living wage. We secured safe housing for 141 neighbors. Serving 3,150 individuals in 2009, we are on pace for a 23-percent increase in demand for our services by the end of 2010.

Despite our successes, we are not unlike other not-for-profits that have been affected by the economy. Contributions from individuals and foundations are down. Due to continuing shifts in priorities by public and private sources, more dollars now flow to direct-assistance programs than to the critical services we offer. We expect this trend to continue.

That’s why we’ve taken proactive steps to strategically redeploy our resources so we can continue meeting the needs of our neighbors, while delivering high-quality services in a cost-effective way. We’re reducing our hours and adding to our street-outreach initiative. After much deliberation, we made the very difficult decision to reduce our staffing level.

We are making every effort to minimize the impact of these changes on the people we serve, as well as the businesses in our community. We selected closing on Saturdays and in the evenings because services by our co-located partners are not available during those times. The majority of clients who visit on Saturdays also visit during the week. Collaborative case management is done on weekdays when other service providers are open for business. We are not eliminating any programming.

We remain steadfast in our commitment to maintain a safe environment in and around our Washington Street facility. Our focus on safety will continue, especially as we move toward the Super Bowl in 2012. We welcome your involvement in these efforts.

The impact of homelessness is very real in our city. It will take all of us—businesses, elected officials, service-providers as well as foundations and individuals—to come together and find solutions to this complex and challenging issue.

____________

John Joanette
Executive director
Horizon House
 

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