Provide transportation to essential agencies and resources that shorten the time spent homeless.
Harmony House is the only day shelter in the city of Huntington and Cabell County. We provide for the immediate and basic needs of individuals and families experiencing homelessness or are at risk of homelessness. That includes shower and laundry facilities, clothing donation room, hygiene items and on-site basic medical care. We also partner with Prestera Center for mental health and substance use disorder services.
Our programs include Jobs First, Rapid Rehousing and the CABHI Supportive Housing teams. Those three programs combined to help 126 people obtain jobs and 99 households get into housing in 2017.
The success of our programs and services depends heavily on our ability to transport clients to essential agencies and resources, medical appointments, apartment searches, home visits and donation pickups.
We currently have one high-mileage van and two newer vans under a three-year lease provided by a grant, which may have to be returned in 2020.
Employees are currently using their own vehicles to pick up donations, inspect apartments and make home visits.
We are serving, housing and employing more clients than ever before - but aren't able to fully serve them with a limited number of vehicles to help meet all their needs and accomplish their personal goals. But, employees cannot use their own vehicles to transport clients.
Without a van, a case manager has to say no to a mattress donation for a client who was recently housed and is sleeping on the floor. Without a van, a case manager cannot take a client apartment hunting - and waiting a few days costs her the apartment.
Providing transportation to clients who are experiencing homelessness is a provision of access to DHHR for SNAP and medical benefits, Huntington Housing Authority for housing assistance, and medical appointments that promote health and wellness.
A lack of transportation assistance is consistently brought up in annual client focus groups.
Transportation may not be the biggest hurdle our clients have to overcome. But when we can remove that barrier, so much more becomes possible in their personal journeys.
Transportation to the Housing Authority leads to a rental voucher for a man to move from the overnight shelter or the streets into an apartment. That transportation to DHHR leads to SNAP benefits for a recently-housed single mother who can fill the fridge for her children.
Transportation provides a lasting impact for a woman who can take advantage of a free mammogram clinic at the local hospital, which leads to a breast cancer diagnosis that was caught early.
And, when we can pick up fresh produce from the food bank, it has a real impact people who don't have regular access to important fruits and vegetables.
Our programs and services, from meeting immediate needs to doing home visits for clients we've housed, depend on transportation. And a new van will allow our agency to have a lasting impact in many more lives.