Social Services Use ‘Coordinated Assistance’ to Help Homeless - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Social Services Use ‘Coordinated Assistance’ to Help Homeless

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The simple act of communication is the idea behind a new program that's helping hundreds of people who might otherwise be homeless. It's a process called coordinated assistance, and has helped more than 200 people in Charlottesville alone.

Coordinated assistance brings different types of social services in the community together to cater to each individual's need. The program is in its infancy, but is already showing results.

When somebody needs help, they have different reasons, and different needs. In the past, if they didn't go to the right resource, they were turned away, but this new web of communication between social service agencies is changing that.

"The staff members can either make a call for an individual or give them the information so they can empower themselves to follow through with, perhaps appointments for some type of medical service or some type of financial service,” said Nancy Carpenter, an advocate for those who are homeless.

This is the essence of coordinated assistance, and speeds up the process immensely. It also helps provide numbers that show which services require the most funding.

"As opposed to having all communities try to identify their own solutions, there's evidence out there, so if we can use that evidence to make decisions about how we refer the people in our own community, we know that we can get really effective in responding to homelessness,” said Kaki Dimock, executive director of the Thomas Jefferson Area Coalition for the Homeless.

But for the program to work, the people who need it have to know about it.

“Both Region Ten and The Haven have outreach workers that actually go on the street, look under bridges, go into tent sites to encourage people to get connected to available resources,” Dimock said.

Charlottesville homeless shelters now all communicate through this process, and they believe it will bring a quicker end to an ongoing problem.

Homeless advocates say that many of the people not currently using this program may not trust it, and for good reason. In the past, many programs have proved ineffective at solving problems like debt, housing, or medical issues in a timely manner.

They say this new process of communication is what will help bridge that barrier.

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