Here is the latest report on 2 facets of UPO’s programs to help people experiencing homelessness: Shelter Hotline and Permanent Supportive Housing.
PERMANENT SUPPORTIVE HOUSING
How we help:
Our devoted team provides wraparound services to highly vulnerable individuals and families experiencing homelessness so they can finally gain the stability they need. We help them to find homes, stay in their new homes, and achieve the highest possible self-sufficiency and quality of life.
Robert has turned his life around. He became homeless at 17 due to becoming addicted to crack cocaine, heroin, and alcohol. Over the next 30 years, he had no home and moved from New York to Baltimore, from Georgia to Florida, and then back to the District. Due to his alcohol and drug abuse, he was imprisoned many times throughout those 3 decades.
On February 22, 2018, while he was in prison, he decided to focus on a new road to sobriety and mental health. After he was released from prison, Robert was placed in a shelter for a year, then became a participant in UPO’s Permanent Supportive Housing program in March 2020. He gained a Case Manager, an apartment, and thrived, despite the pandemic.
For over a year, he proved his self-sufficiency by maintaining stability in his housing and finances. At that point, he opted out of our PSH program. We can call him our newest graduate!
Now he works as a peer recovery coach, dedicated to helping people who are experiencing the trauma of drug and alcohol abuse. He assists them into recovery and gives brief interventions and referrals to treatment. Robert celebrated the 5th anniversary of his sobriety on February 22, 2023 and looks forward to celebrating many more years to come.
How we help:
The team at UPO’s Shelter Hotline (SHL) program were champions during Hypothermia Season (November 1 - April 15), which was one of the mildest winters of the past few years. SHL provided safe transportation, outreach, and life-sustaining support to people experiencing homelessness. We are the eyes and ears of the city, protecting the health of people who live on the streets. Our team:
- Responded to 54,000+ emergency calls
- Distributed 91,775 life-sustaining items (i.e. blankets, socks, gloves, hats, scarves, long underwear, ponchos, tarps, etc.)
- Provided free transportation to 19,200+ people
- Distributed 31,100+ meals, along with water
Answering people’s needs:
Since May, our supply of blankets has been significantly limited and is not meeting the needs of our customers experiencing homelessness. We need your help to buy hundreds of additional blankets and other life-sustaining items as we prepare for all kinds of weather.
With the summer’s heat waves, the number of water bottles we distribute has skyrocketed as we meet the increased need. Each month, we are ordering twice as many pallets with cases of water. So we are holding a Hydration Drive: Right now, you can help your neighbors through the hottest months. When you donate to buy much-needed water, you are showing how much you care.
Addressing the opioid epidemic:
During our outreach efforts, Shelter Hotline now includes the distribution of Fentanyl Test Strips and the administering of Narcan. We also refer people to UPO’s Comprehensive Treatment Center, a medication-assisted treatment program that helps people with opioid addiction to achieve abstinence. (The tailored treatment includes individual, group, and family counseling.)
On June 7, SHL was asked to partner with DC’s Police Dept., Fire & EMS Dept., and Dept. of Public Works to meet people’s needs at the intersection of 16th St. and Good Hope Rd. SE (a location with a high crime rate). We distributed food, bottled water, Fentanyl Test Strips, and other life-sustaining items during this coordinated outreach — a recurring effort that will continue at least through the summer.
On days when the poor air quality reached Orange and Red Levels and beyond, we partnered with the DC Dept. of Human Services and The Community Partnership for the Prevention of Homelessness to ensure that people experiencing homelessness had masks and bottled water. During the summer months of increasingly hot weather, SHL remains on the front line every day to ensure all people receive the help and support they need.
In June, Shelter Hotline launched a new call center system which improved our customer service capacity including multiple referral options, shorter wait times, and the ability to respond to calls remotely (in the event of an emergency/power outage at our HQ).
We are ready to help everyone, no matter what they’re going through.