Walk The Walk - July 2019

We are writing to share big news on behalf of SideWalk and for the local homeless service system as a whole.

In 2011, SideWalk launched Coordinated Entry for homeless adults.  Coordinated Entry is a vital service. It acts as the single front door for people experiencing homelessness to access housing and shelter programs. This reduces runaround for people on the streets and weaves disparate programs and services into a coherent system.

Over the last 8 years, SideWalk’s Coordinated Entry program has supported radical changes in the way that homeless services are delivered. System change is extremely challenging work, and we are proud of our many accomplishments. These include:

  • SideWalk launched a program for homeless veterans that coordinates services among programs funded by the Veterans Administration. 

  • We converted referral and admissions (for all providers) to a vulnerability based system, ensuring that the people in greatest need are first in line for services. 

  • We supported the adoption of “low-barrier” policies system-wide to make the system more accessible for vulnerable people. 

  • Lastly, we supported the creation of the Providence Community Care Center to integrate housing with healthcare and behavioral health services. 

As you may have heard, on August 1st, the Coordinated Entry system for homeless adults will pass from SideWalk to the Community Action Council. We’re working closely with the Community Action Council to make this transition as seamless as possible.

Although our role is changing, our mission will not. This change is an opportunity to enhance our highest-impact programs - Rapid Re-Housing and Shelter Diversion. With your support, SideWalk volunteers have helped over 1,400 people to escape the streets and find a safe place to call home through these two programs. 

The dignity, stability, and peace of mind that a home offers is the foundation for greater health and wellbeing. The healthcare profession has long struggled to address the health impacts of homelessness. Homelessness increases people’s risk for serious illness, for experiencing violence, and for declining psychological well-being. 

In the coming months, SideWalk will turn our attention to tightly integrating our rent assistance programs with the healthcare system. We will be working to integrate data systems, launch cross-sector quality improvement initiatives, and to coordinate care more fully across systems. Because the people we serve deserve to live healthy, happy lives. 

People on the streets rely on us to help them leave homelessness behind, and we rely on the generous financial support of caring people like you to accomplish our work. With your support we’ll continue to be on the front lines at the Community Care Center, helping people on the streets find their way home. 

I want to thank you for your strong support over the years. No organization has the full resources and authority to end homelessness alone. Ending homelessness requires the support and involvement of our entire community. I look forward to continuing our shared efforts to help our neighbors escape the streets and find their way home.

Phil Owen