A new program aims to change this dramatically. Local nonprofit Commonwealth Catholic Charities, in partnership with other local service organizations, has launched Homeward Central Intake. The strategy is to use a centralized, shared database on shelter locations and openings to help the homeless find services more easily.
"Central Intake will reduce duplication of services and provide [help to] the exact number of persons in need as well as unmet services," program director Carla Turnage says.
In other words, the goal is to match supply with demand. To track numbers, Turnage uses a new data management system called Help-Net. The database enables staff and partnering agencies to streamline information such as vacancies and services to reduce homelessness in Richmond.
Homeward Central Intake is housed within the well-known community center and shelter of the Daily Planet at 517 W. Grace Street.
"The need for central intake was recognized several years ago," says Gail Bird Necklace, operations manager for Homeward. "In the early '90s we had a patchwork of homeless services. We didn't know what we had as far as available providers."
Central Intake will work in tandem with the Daily Planet, Caritas, ESI Connections, Salvation Army and other providers of transitional programs throughout Greater Richmond.
The Homeward Central Intake project seeks volunteers, too. For more information call (804) 648-4177 or visit www.homeward-richmond.com. Brandon Walters
Letters to the editor may be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org