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Consultant Releases Shelter Recommendations [REPORT ATTACHED]

By: James Buechele, United Way of the Big Bend Email
By: James Buechele, United Way of the Big Bend Email
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By: James Buechele

A report released today on the Tallahassee Homeless Shelter says a change in the way things are run has been needed for quite sometime.

"We except the findings for the recommendations and we've already began working on many, if not all, of them," Jacob Reiter, Interim Shelter Director, said.

The report goes on to say, in the past, there's been a seemingly never ending cycle of homelessness.

The united way of the big bend helps fund the shelter and says they couldn't agree more about changing that goal.

“From being one that's just a shelter with an endless ability for people to stay there to try and put homeless people on a path out of homelessness," Ron Sachs, United Way of the Big Bend, said.

Many people that stay at the shelter get services through the renaissance community center you see behind me that's why one of the recommendations in the study says the two should merge to help homeless people in Tallahassee."

I think it makes sense for us to collaborate with the RCC on that so they're on the same page.

Board members met this afternoon to talk more about what this report contains.


UPDATE 6:42 p.m.

A report released Thursday about the homeless shelter in Tallahassee says a change in the way things are run has been needed for quite sometime.

You can read the entire report in the attachment on this story.

"We accept the findings for the recommendations and we've already began working on many, if not all, of them," said interim director Jacob Reiter.

The report goes on to say, in the past, there's been a seemingly never-ending cycle of homelessness.

The United Way of the Big Bend helps fund the shelter and says they couldn't agree more about changing that goal.

Below is the Untied Way's statement that was sent out to local media.


Press Release: United Way of the Big Bend

TALLAHASSEE, Fla., May 9, 2013 – Findings and recommendations in a major study about the operations and policies of The Shelter were released today by United Way of the Big Bend (UWBB) and the board of The Shelter. The study and report -- commissioned by United Way and The Shelter -- are the work of Dr. James Wright and Dr. Amy Donley, of the University of Central Florida’s Institute for Social and Behavioral Science. The seasoned experts in the field of homelessness have conducted effective studies of this kind throughout Central Florida. They are the authors of Poor and Homeless in the Sunshine State: Down and Out in Theme Park Nation.

The purpose of the study was to determine what “best practice” models should be embraced for emergency shelters for homeless people, and to make change recommendations to the Board of Directors of The Shelter and to United Way of the Big Bend. The final report includes 12 findings and recommendations in total: seven related to board functions of The Shelter; five related to The Shelter’s operations.

United Way of the Big Bend and The Shelter have met and discussed the findings and recommendations presented in the report and continue to work collaboratively. The Shelter already has begun a process aimed at implementing positive changes to better serve the at-risk population of Shelter clients.

As a major funder of The Shelter, the United Way has suggested The Shelter’s board focus on actions steps for change in four key areas related to the report’s findings and recommendations:

1. Evolve the mission of The Shelter to limit the time any individual can use its facilities – to more actively transition homeless people toward independence
2. Determine appropriate location for a new facility for The Shelter – one that will be large enough to include wrap-around services for clients, as part of the pathway for transition out of homelessness
3. Develop a policy by which The Shelter works with other providers, agencies and government to help create a path out of homelessness for its clients
4. Strengthen The Shelter’s professional leadership, staff – with additional emphasis on an expanded role for board management, participation, and involvement.

“The report’s most relevant and important recommendations are being embraced by United Way and The Shelter -- and we expect to help build broad community support for changes The Shelter will implement that make a real difference,” said Heather Mitchell, president of UWBB. “We are heartened by this opportunity to help evolve The Shelter to an even higher plane of service.”
Debbie Holt, chair of The Shelter’s board of directors, similarly reflected on the action steps being taken to improve the organization’s operations and policies.

“Our board is committed to creating a positive plan to move forward and strengthening The Shelter’s ability to serve more effectively,” said Holt. “We are always mindful of the responsibility to adjust and adapt to best practices that set even higher standards for our practices and outcomes.”

United Way of the Big Bend, The Shelter, the City of Tallahassee and Leon County share a strong belief that the community must have an emergency shelter that is fully operational and provides a safe environment for this significant at-risk population. We will continue our collaboration to improve the continuum of care throughout the Big Bend.

United Way of the Big Bend serves eight counties. In our 70-year history, we have invested more than $100 million to help those in need, and have worked to find solutions for issues facing our community. Our work addresses basic needs, helps families become financially stable and provides opportunities for children and youth to succeed. For more information, please visit us online - www.uwbb.org - like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.


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