Bay Area Homelessness

In November, Legacy Members gathered at LifeMoves Haven Family House in Menlo Park for a dinner and conversation on Bay Area homelessness. Legacy Member Rod Ferguson shared about his work with and support of LifeMoves and CEO Bruce Ives and Haven House psychologist Dr. Brian Greenberg shared with us about the Haven House programs. Veteran Haven House resident spoke candidly about his family’s experience with homelessness.

    

A few key takeaways from the conversation:

  • The recent merger:
    • LifeMoves is the product of a merger between Shelter Network of San Mateo County (founded by Jackie Speier) and InnVision the Way Home of Santa Clara County
    • Rod led the merger following his work in for-profit M&A; commitment to objective, verifiable measurement
    • Combined the two organizations to have a two-county footprint with a single goal: more clients in beds
    • Because of Shelter Network’s roots, LifeMoves provides housing for most of homeless population in San Mateo County; still have a long way to go in Santa Clara County
  • Local issue:
    • Rod mentioned having been raised with the attitude that “charity begins at home” and this is the work he could do in his own backyard
    • How can a place as wealthy as Silicon Valley have such a terrible issue with homelessness?
  • Where we are today:
    • LifeMoves is largest provider of homeless shelter and services in Silicon Valley; 17 facilities (9 are large shelters; 6 serve families); ~700 beds
    • Chronic homelessness for singles and individuals is extremely visible in this area, but family homelessness is less visible
    • Serve 10k clients each year: ½ in shelters and ½ in other programs
    • 93% of families and 72% of the individuals who come through these programs return to stable housing and self-sufficiency (statistic for fiscal 2017)
    • Goal is not just to provide shelter and safety, but set these people up for success when they leave the shelter, so they never become homeless again
  • Programs and Services:
    • Haven House provides job and housing search assistance, financial literacy/savings, children’s services, mental health support, life skills education—get clients into recovery, relapse prevention, motivational interviewing, trauma-based intervention
    • ½ of this facility is veteran head of household, epidemic of veteran homelessness—seen in both single adult shelters and family shelters
    • Waitlist for Haven House is 30-60 days, currently have 16 families in local hotels/motels waiting for a room
    • LifeMoves hires staff that reflect their target population—lots of graduates and people in recovery from homelessness, mental illness, and addiction disorders; this creates some problems, but solves many others
    • LifeMoves secures part-time jobs for their clients with poor work history, conviction records, missing teeth –problem is these jobs don’t pay enough to sustain housing on the peninsula
    • Last year, LifeMoves had 16,000 volunteers
  • Siting a shelter:
    • It’s tough to site a homeless shelter; neighbors don’t want homeless shelters—Haven House met a NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) man, years after shelter was built, who said he was so wrong and that the Haven House team and clients have been such good neighbors
    • Took 10 years to site the Haven House shelter; also very hard to expand or develop physically on that site once you’ve built
    • The right facility in the right neighborhood can really be integrated if people step up

 

Resources that were mentioned: