Colorado public radio's KCFR program Colorado Matters had an interview (audio only) today with Liesl Begnaud about a homelessness prevention program of the Homelessness Prevention Coalition that she manages targeted at families in financial distress in the metro Denver area.
The program focuses on weekly counseling sessions with the families, usually at their homes, designed to help them access resources available to them, identify ways to produce income, and manage their finances. These families are often not aware of the resources available to them and are often so overwhelmed with the issues that they need to address, so having an individual available to provide guidance can make a real difference.
It also spends up to an additional $3,000 per family to assist financial with costs from GED application fees to mattresses for children to sleep on and more. Begnaud notes that the traditional shelter based homelessness response system costs about $12,000 per year per person, which is dramatically more expensive.
According to Begnaud, of the 110 families in the program (about 90 at any one time), all manage to stay in their homes for three months and 94% manage to do so for six months.
Traditional, more bureaucratic programs, are rarely narrow in scope rather than providing a holistic, pro-active approach that may work better.