Homeless coalition continues to serve county
by Jennifer Cohron
Jul 05, 2013 | 1582 views | 0 0 comments | 76 76 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Five months after closing its transitional housing facility, the Walker County Coalition for the Homeless is operating under a new model that is allowing more clients to be served.

Haven of Hope, the former shelter, housed 37 homeless adults and children in six months after opening in May 2012.

Bobbie Miller, the Coalition’s new casework coordinator, assisted 33 people with housing needs in the month of June alone.

Miller was hired in April, three months after the WCCH board announced Haven of Hope was shutting down because of a lease dispute.

The nonprofit is now based at the Jasper Area Family Service Center on Old Birmingham Highway in Jasper.

Under the current model, clients are placed in temporary housing at a local motel until their paperwork can be processed with the Alabama Rural Coalition for the Homeless, which coordinates federal funding for 42 counties.

An ARCH representative makes weekly visits to Walker County to meet with clients seeking financial assistance with housing.

Applicants must have an income, find a suitable rental property and have it inspected by Miller before their case can be approved.

WCCH board member Lona Courington said benefits of the new model include cost savings and the ability to serve single men. Haven of Hope only housed single women and intact families.

“While this may not be the permanent model for what we’re doing, as long as this grant money is available, it is a very productive model. It utilizes our money better and has reduced our overhead by about two thirds,” Courington said.

However, the nonprofit is no longer able to provide the financial counseling and spiritual care that were at the heart of Haven of Hope.

The federal funding that is supporting WCCH’s current operations became available in April and is expected to last at least through the end of the year, according to Courington.

Miller has 20 years of experience in casework management, including five years spent as the coordinator of the Salvation Army Women and Children Shelter in Birmingham.

While working in Walker County, two things have stood out to Miller about the homeless population. There are more women and children seeking help than men, and most have found themselves without a roof over their head for the first time in their lives.

“In Birmingham, you have people who are cycling through shelters constantly. Here, you see more people who just need a boost up. They just need help to get into a place, and they’ll be okay,” Miller said.

To contact the Walker County Coalition for the Homeless, call 387-7408.