The unsheltered homeless in our community, who are often living outside in the elements, are the most vulnerable population to victimization. Not only is this a health concern for those living on the streets, but the vulnerability of becoming a victim of crime is very high. There are countless stories of people being physically and emotionally assaulted or having their limited amount of belongings stolen which all point to the need for more services for the homeless.
Empower Yolo has partnered with the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office and Shores of Hope to assist homeless crime victims by providing emergency shelter and intensive case management through the KE California Office of Emergency Services grant. This program is designed as a crisis and interim housing program for homeless crime victims. Crimes against these individuals may include theft, violence, sexual assault and human trafficking as well as any other crimes. The goal of the program is to help homeless crime victims with resources and support to help them achieve stability.
“Crime victims who have to focus on how they will meet their basic needs for the day, every day, do not have the luxury of being able to participate in their criminal justice case, therapy, or any of the various support services available to crime victims who are not homeless, says Cameron Handley, Yolo County District Attorney’s Office, Director of Yolo County’s Child Advocacy Center and Family Violence Coordination Program.
“Additionally, they are susceptible to other crimes and violence, because they are homeless, which only compounds the struggles created by the victimization that brought them to our attention originally, a victimization which often significantly contributed to their eventual homelessness in the first place. With this program, we hope to bridge this injustice and make services available to all victims of crime including the homeless, marginalized, and profoundly underserved,” Handley says.
While intervention and prosecution are important, victims of all forms of abuse need services that are holistic, comprehensive, culturally competent, collaborative, accessible, and affordable. Homeless victims often “fall through the cracks” and remain underserved in the community with limited programs and resources to assist them with securing permanent housing. More unjust is the fact that many homeless victims are homeless as a direct result of their victimization.
Without a permanent mailing address and often without reliable telephone service, the transient population, especially individuals who are displaced as a result of victimization, require a comprehensive approach to providing services. They need services they can depend on, and realistically access from the time they enter the system until the time their case is resolved.
Through this partnership, Shores of Hope provides shelter and security, the DA’s Office provides program coordination and Victim Services staff. Empower Yolo provides case management and advocacy. The program is accessed through Empower Yolo’s 24-hour crisis line or walk-ins. The District Attorney’s Office Victim Services liaison, Shores of Hope, and local law enforcement also make referrals. The District Attorney’s office serves as both a referring agency to the shelter as well as a connection for clients to victim services advocacy. They provide information on the criminal justice process, court accompaniment, and assistance with the California Victim Compensation program.
Once accepted into the program, clients are provided shelter based on client need and most appropriate placement for their comfort and safety. Concurrently, survivor-driven case management and advocacy take place with comprehensive needs assessment by a client navigator. A unique service plan, tailored to individual needs and case management will continue throughout the transition into permanent housing. Empower Yolo’s client navigators connect participants to resources that will help them achieve self-sufficiency. Supportive services include: emergency shelter, crisis intervention, advocacy and accompaniment, counseling, emergency food and clothing, transportation to appointments, permanent housing assistance and more.
Client navigators work with each client, focusing on safety, support and stability. They check-in and meet with each client as needed, and set weekly goals to achieve long term goals of stability. Clients are encouraged to lead the process, and choose their own goals and priorities.
“We are realizing the scope of these clients’ basic needs,” says Kate Krohn Empower Yolo’s Specialized Emergency Housing Client Navigator. “For some clients you would think that the anxiety of being outside and then coming inside would decrease, but for many clients the anxiety increases because they are in an enclosed space that’s unfamiliar. We try and support our clients with any needs they have such as obtaining an I.D. and basic medical care,” says Krohn. Because these clients have multiple barriers the length of their stay is assessed on a case-by-case basis.
Emergency housing services provided by this program have proven to reduce the chance of re-victimization and help break the cycle of homelessness by providing opportunities to achieve permanent housing and self-sufficiency. 101 people have received services under this grant since its inception and temporary housing was provided to 41. Because of this program Empower Yolo has been able to expand its services and provide both temporary and permanent housing solutions for some of society’s most vulnerable victims.
The community can support our KE shelter and clients by donating twin bed sheets, towels, washcloths, non-perishable food items, cleaning supplies, and toiletry items such as shampoo, conditioner, body wash, deodorant and toothpaste. Donations can be dropped off at main office at 175 Walnut Street, Woodland, Monday-Thursday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Fridays, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., or any other Empower Yolo location.
For questions about the crime victims’ shelter please contact Cameron Handley at [email protected]
Empower Yolo would also like to thank our generous sponsors and donors who attended our annual Summer Solstice Celebration on June 22; it was a wonderful evening to help support our unfunded services and programs. Thank you for supporting us in our mission of promoting safe, healthy and resilient communities.