Member Colleen Carmichael, ED of Reach For Home services, presented an overview of her organization's functions and successes.
Member Colleen Carmichael, ED of Reach For Home services, presented an overview of her organization's functions and successes.
Colleen is the Executive Director of Reach For Home, previously called North Sonoma County Services. Her program provides homeless services as well as housing assistance for people who are currently homeless or have been homeless in the past. The program is a not-for-profit organization that relies on donations and grants to provide their services. There is no state, county or federal funding for her programs. She has a staff of three people who help with her work. They have recently moved from St. Paul's Episcopal Church where they were housed for the past 2-3 years into new facilities at 433 Hudson Street.
Rick Cafferata is the outreach director for the program. He visits the camps on a daily basis and knows each of the residents on a first name basis. Until recently, he had been a resident of the camps as well. He works with the people in the camps to "bring them in" to the scope of services offered by Reach For Home. He helps obtain healthcare, both behavioral as well as primary care, he helps them to obtain veterans benefits and Social Security benefits and he helps to prepare them for anticipating housing, if and when it becomes available. Through his outreach efforts in the past six months, at least two veterans have obtained veteran benefits and Social Security that they were having difficulty obtaining. Six homeless residents have been returned to their homes once their behavioral and health issues and benefits issues were resolved. Rick knows that he is not going to be successful in every encounter but that he thinks positively and he can't give up on these people. He is committed to picking them up off the ground and guiding them into having a home.
Reach For Home is trying to work within the guidelines established by the federal government for "Housing for Success. This is also tied into the program, available in other areas, called First Step Housing. This program focuses on assistance with mental health, physical health, and is based on a team model of the case manager and team providing social services. Usually this level of service is provided in a formal housing structure.
Ana Rangle is the primary case manager. She oversees the transitional housing program. Homeless people can live up to 12 months in temporary transitional housing with monthly re-evaluations. During their stay they receive help with managing finances, parenting, learning job skills and resume writing. Initially, when the program was housed at St. Paul's and in its early stages, they had a very low success rate. Now the average stay in transitional housing, with this management is approximately 10 months and 90% of the people participating in the program are moving into a rent subsidy program to prepare them for ultimately moving into market cost housing.
Orbelinda (Orbe) Landaverde is an associate case manager who is responsible for the rent subsidy program Reach For Home is looking for homes to have under a master lease that may then be rented out to people who have graduated from the transitional housing program. Rent subsidies beginning at 70% of the cost of the rent are gradually reduced over a nine month period of time during which the family or person receives help with establishing a savings program, building solid credit, continuation of parenting and health management skills and any needed mental health counseling. They currently have several people in this program. They are looking for more houses which Reach For Home may lease and then sublease to the person receiving the benefits.
Reach For Home is entirely dependent upon donations and non-governmental grants. They are also dependent upon volunteer help for many of their programs, including transportation and at times short-term housing. Reach For Home will hold its annual fundraising banquet on Saturday, August 19, 2017. You can find out more information at their website: or you can reach them by telephone at 707-433-6161.
There are currently 2900 people in Sonoma County who are homeless, three times the national rate. High costs of rent are the primary reason and over two thirds of cases for not being able to have stable housing.
Our thanks go out to Colleen and her staff for the wonderful services they are providing to the homeless population of Healdsburg, Windsor, Cloverdale, and Geyserville  I hope that we can all support her as much as possible.