Serving Monroe, Owen, and Greene Counties

Wake Up! with United Way Examines Homelessness

The first Wake Up! with United Way breakfast launched earlier this month with a candid exploration of homelessness in Bloomington.  
 Panelists Rev. Forrest Gilmore of Shalom Community Center, Emily Pike of New Hope for Families, and Jonathan Jones, Crawford home resident and Shalom employee who has been personally impacted by homelessness, fielded questions from attendees and shared their experience about everything from affordable housing to public policy to panhandling. Efrat Feferman, United Way of Monroe County Executive Director, moderated the discussion. 
“The homelessness plight that I’ve seen change here over the past eleven years is communication,” Jones explained. “Before, people who were experiencing homelessness and poverty weren’t being heard, even though they were the ones going through it. Thus far, it’s progressed a lot and now there are so many avenues which weren’t here a decade ago, which is a godsend.” 
In discussing the challenges facing our community, Pike contrasted the housing-readiness model, which situates housing as an end-goal for those facing homelessness and the housing-first approach used by New Hope, which provides housing immediately. In recent years, United Way member agencies focusing on ending homelessness have transitioned to the housing-first model and Pike explained why. “Our median stay last year was 66 days,” she told the audience. “If we were using a housing readiness model, what that says is you have 66 days to control your finances, fix any substance abuse problems you have, any medical problems you have, any mental health problems you have, whatever back rent you owe somewhere, all of that and also, by the way, you should get a job and find somebody to take care of your three little kids while you do that, so you’d better get started . . . that just doesn’t make sense.” 
“We actually know how to solve homelessness,” added Rev. Gilmore. “The challenge is bringing forth the resources to do so.” 
Session handouts:
Would you like to help ensure our community members have their basic needs met?

Please consider donating to the United Way Essentials Priority Fund. This fund helps individuals and families meet basic needs with access to sufficient food, a stable place to live, low-cost health care, and the information and skills to manage crises.

Want to learn more about additional Essentials initiatives or the other building blocks for a good life - Earnings and Education?

  • Born Learning
  • Financial Stability Alliance
  • Monroe Smart Start
  • Familywize Discount Prescription Card
  • Bank On Bloomington