Recent homeless count shows importance for emergency shelters
As the weather gets colder, for some families and individuals, the need for emergency shelters like Rhinelander’s Frederick Place becomes more apparent.
And according to the bi-annual count of the homeless population in Oneida, Vilas, Forest and Langlade Counties, area shelters are doing a good job of getting to those who need temporary, emergency housing.
“Since we opened in January 2011 we have never been empty,” Northwoods Alliance for Temporary Housing Inc. (NATH) executive director Tammy Modic said. “The lowest we have gotten to is five. But we are usually full.”
That report would reflect what was found in the count held in July as 89 people were homeless but all but four of them were in some sort of temporary housing for various reasons.
“There is no typical definition of a rural homeless person,” Modic said. Adding some do not have jobs, or may have just started a job but haven’t received a check yet to pay for rent or a variety of other reasons.
Residents at Frederick Place are limited to 90 days but Modic said the average stay is 38 days.
“At that time, they have either their own place or have found someone else to live with or reconnected with family,” she said. “Some people leave and we don’t know where they went but for the most part, people leave here to move into a more stable housing situation.”
That maybe one of the reasons the count showed few homeless in the area not living without shelter. Another reason maybe the programs that Frederick Place provides.
“We are not just a place to come and sleep,” Modic said. “This is a zero tolerance facility so there are no drugs or alcohol and we do a background check on everyone that applies.”
Modic said random blood tests and Breathalyzers are given to those staying at the house and anyone in violation will be removed.
“They have two hours to pack up their things and leave,” Modic said.
While Frederick Place may keep people off of drugs and alcohol, it also helps them work toward specific goals to help improve their life situation.
“Once they come to the house, they are assigned a case worker and set up specific goals that they have to meet,” she said.
Goals can include looking for a job, attending AA meetings or looking for housing.
“Everyone’s goals are different,” Modic said. “The counselor will look at each individual and what they want to work toward and set their goal accordingly. So the goal for one person is not the same for another. The main purpose is making the person self-sufficient.”
So far the organization has been helpful getting people back on their feet and the referral rate seems to bare that out.
“People learn about us through a variety of ways,” Modic said. “Facebook, media. But the longer we have been open, the more and more people hear about us through word of mouth.”
For more information on Frederick Place and NATH programs, visit their website at www.nathnorthwoods.com.