Today marks an exciting milestone for Anne, one that she has worked hard to reach. Today she signs the lease on an apartment. She and her young son will finally have a home of their own.
When Anne came to the Haven in mid-March of this year, she did not have a place to live, a job, or health insurance. She wanted desperately to build a better, more stable life for herself and her son. Anne was at a breaking point, with no family or friends that she could live with.
After coming to the Haven and meeting with a Service Coordinator, Anne and her son moved into the Byrne House Family Shelter. There, they had a room of their own and shared a living room, playroom, and kitchen with other shelter guests. Anne began meeting regularly with a Haven Shelter Service Coordinator, whose job was to help Anne identify her goals and work through the obstacles in her life to help her achieve them.
Often, individuals like Anne who come to the Haven are unaware of existing programs and resources that can help them create the foundation they need to begin turning their lives around. Service Coordinators are knowledgeable about resources at the local, state, and national level. They offer one-on-one support and assist in explaining the complex systems, paperwork, and bureaucracy that can be stumbling blocks for so many people. For example, like so many others who come to the Haven, Anne did not have a social security card. This was a significant barrier. Without it, she could not apply for benefits or housing waitlists. Waitlists for subsidized housing can sometimes be years long, so getting on them immediately is essential.
Together, Anne and her Service Coordinator were able to secure a voucher through a new initiative from the VT State Housing Authority called the Rapid Re-Housing Program. This fast-paced program required Anne and her support team at the Haven to move quickly to provide the needed documentation and complete all the necessary steps for approval. The result of their efforts is that Anne now has subsidized housing, which makes it affordable and sustainable for her.
Anne’s smile speaks volumes. She now has a full-time job, her own car for transportation to work, health insurance, savings, and as of today, her own apartment. She will continue to meet regularly with a Haven Service Coordinator as part of an aftercare program called the Family Supported Housing Program. This is an essential component in ensuring Anne’s long-term stability and success.
“It’s a slow, step-by-step process,” says Tory Emery, Family Programs Supervisor who has worked closely with Anne. “We work together to identify goals and tasks that needed to be completed, and we work through them one at a time. Often, it’s overwhelming for guests—and frankly to us as staff members as well—to think about everything that needs to be done. We support guests in focusing on one task at a time. Typically, once an individual sees progress in one or two areas, it gives them hope and the momentum they need to keep going.”
The Haven Through 40 Years
The Haven will commemorate its four decades of service to the region by releasing 40 stories of people, events, ideas, and services fundamental to our mission. We will be releasing these stories weekly, so check back often.