City announces No One Unsheltered program
The Mayor’s Coalition announced a new city-wide initiative on Monday morning, Dec. 11, in City Council Chambers at the City Center. The program, “No One Unsheltered” is aimed at optimizing all beds available to homeless individuals to make sure no one needing shelter is turned away.
Led by Commander Ansel Shells, the Mayor’s Coalition is a collaborative effort between city agencies and local nonprofit organizations committed to reducing the conditions affecting life satisfaction for all citizens in the City of Florence. The idea for NOU project came from the Mayor’s Coalition‘s Homelessness Subcommittee, chaired by Bryan Braddock, Executive Director of the House of Hope of the Pee Dee.
It was launched on July 7 to ensure that any person in need of emergency shelter in the City of Florence is matched with a bed in one of nine participating shelters. Through resource pooling, coordinated communication, and aided by a small transportation stipend from the city, the NOU project is able to fully meet the emergency shelter needs of Florence’s homeless population on any given night, based on data from the 2017 Point in Time (PIT) survey.
To set this project in motion, the city brought in consultant Richard Savage who guided the committee through a strategic planning process to establish the NOU. A key feature of the NOU project is that it accommodates the widest range of homelessness needs possible.
The project serves women, victims of domestic violence and/or sexual abuse, families with multiple children, youth, veterans, persons with disabilities or chronic illnesses, the elderly, and the situationally or chronically homeless. Services provided by NOU were not developed solely for this purpose. The NOU shelters are doing this important work with these challenging populations every day.
The shelter directors simply saw the NOU project as a means to magnify their impact on an issue to which they were already committed. The organizations and individuals forming the operating core of the NOU include:
• City of Florence, Drew Griffin
• Family Promise • House of Hope, Bryan Braddock
• Loving Arms, Cindy Williams
• Pee Dee Coalition, Shonette Dargan
• Pee Dee Community Action Program, Sonyetta Cooper
• Resurrection Restoration Center for the Homeless, Modestine Brody
• The Naomi Project, Joyce Ford
• The Salvation Army, Heather Steverson
Since July 17, NOU has assisted more than 100 people, noted Bryan Braddock. “It is so refreshing to see the spirit of collaboration between all the participating organizations,” Braddock said. “It has revealed the true hearts of these organizations to serve the needs of the homeless.” Braddock explained that when temperatures dip below 40 degrees and if a participating agency is full that entity will contact the other NOU agencies to find a bed.
When the demand exceeds availability, city funds can be are used to obtain motel rooms. “The city has been instrumental in creating an environment of collaboration and giving leadership to bring us together to achieve a common goal,” Braddock continued. He noted that the city has set aside funds to reimburse agencies in the NOU program to offset some of their costs in transferring individuals.
One of the major issues is the need for more beds and all the agencies are looking for ways to house more people, he said. For example, the Salvation Army has recently increased 12 beds. Whosoever Church, located beside the Courtney McGinnis Graham Community Shelter on S. Church Street, has allowed the set up of 10 cots as overflow during extreme weather.
Also, Braddock noted, the House of Hope plans to build a new facility on the property of the Graham Community Center with 50 beds for men. That addition will free up beds at center which will then house women, children and some families. Braddock noted that some of the participating agencies offer more than a bed by providing case management to help people find permanent housing.
The NOU project team meets periodically to review program outcomes and makes adjustments to procedures when necessary. Quarterly progress reports are delivered during regular Mayor’s Coalition meetings. For more information about the Mayor’s Coalition No One Unsheltered Project, contact the Mayor’s Coalition Coordinator, Commander Anson Shells at 843-676-8800, ext. 1062 or 843-495-0208.