For more than four decades, the Christian Service Center has helped prevent homelessness through rental assistance to families in need. Last year, we added a new best practice provision to our Family & Emergency Services program called Rapid Re-housing. This provision offers short-term rental assistance and services for guests on our campus who are already experiencing homelessness. The goals are to help people exit homelessness by obtaining housing quickly, to increase self-sufficiency, and stay housed. Our first Rapid Rehousing manager, Ebony Tanner, has been successful in placing 15 people into housing in the last year.
We now have three specialists working on this system of care, and so far in 2021 we have helped 38 adults exit homelessness. Some of our clients get very short-term assistance just until they can get employed and support themselves in an affordable apartment that is 30% or less of their monthly income. Other clients struggle with a severe mental or physical disability such that they will never work again. These clients are eventually moved into a permanent supportive housing situation where they will have an apartment for the rest of their lives and some supportive services.
In Orlando, a study was conducted in 2015 that showed the cost to our community of someone living on the street for a year averaged $31,065 in just emergency room and incarceration costs. It is far more efficient for us to help those who can never work again by putting them in a small efficiency apartment rather than allowing them to stay in the street. However, we do place people into jobs as well or help them to get into a job that offers them more working hours.
According to Ebony, “most of our clients are already working in the hospitality industry or at a fast food restaurant but may not be getting more than 20 hours a week.” The stain of a previous criminal conviction, coupled with the trauma of living on the street can be a near impossible situation for some to overcome, but with patience and regular support, many people can find their way back into housing and safety. No one deserves to be homeless, and the Christian Service Center is working hard to help end the travesty of homelessness for those who experience it and for our community as a whole.