Community Alliance for the Homeless

Community Alliance for the Homeless

 

Community Alliance for the Homeless is a nonprofit organization that provides planning, technical assistance and service coordination to a range of public and private agencies that work to end homelessness in Memphis and Shelby County. The organization formed in 2010 after the merger of Partners for the Homeless and the Greater Memphis Inter-Agency Coalition for the Homeless.

 

Chere Bradshaw is executive director of Community Alliance for the Homeless, a position she’s held for three years. She previously spent 20 years working in other homeless-related services. It’s a passion she developed during an internship as a University of Memphis student. “It showed me the only difference between us and people who are homeless is resources,” she said. “It was amazing to see how if people needed just a little bit of help we could help get them on their feet.”

 

The organization uses the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s definition of homelessness, which states it’s an individual or family who lacks a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence; is in imminent risk of homelessness; is an unaccompanied person younger than 25, or families with children who otherwise don’t qualify as homeless; or are fleeing or attempting to flee domestic violence and have no other residence. There are as many as 80 organizations across the city working to help the homeless population, an effort Community Alliance for the Homeless leads through its coordination of services and facilitation of the process to get more people housed.

 

Community Alliance facilitates a system called Coordinated Entry. This is a mainstream city-wide crisis response that allows anyone experiencing homelessness to gain quick, fair and low barrier access to services. The goal: Making future episodes of homelessness rare, brief and nonrecurring. Of course not everyone just shows up looking for housing. The Community Alliance for the Homeless coordinates efforts to go out to find people on the streets, so that now instead of each organization operating off their own waiting list there is one master list. A weekly meeting brings everyone to the table to coordinate efforts and to ensure those who are most vulnerable are prioritized for assistance.

 

The effort is working. The organization did an intensive three-day search for people living on the streets in 2012 and found 236. That number has dropped by 76 percent, in part because of the coordinated efforts to find the people and place them in a housing situation that works long term for that individual or family.

 

Of course not everyone is ready for help. Bradshaw mentions a former aircraft mechanic who became ill and lived on the streets Downtown. One outreach worker never gave up on him, even though he kept refusing housing. When he decided he was ready, they were ready too. He’s been successfully housed for over four years.

 

Community Alliance for the Homeless receives financial support from the City of Memphis, Shelby County government and private foundations. The organization coordinates efforts of many, but there is always room for more. In fact, Bradshaw said anyone can be a member of their Consortium and advocate for the community’s homeless population. The Community Alliance for the Homeless is the one-stop shop for people who want to help the homeless community. For information about the organization or to donate, go to www.cafth.org.

Memphis Partners

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