Partnership to help with housing

WARREN – The Warren YWCA and Beatitude House are collaborating as they work to help local women and children with planned permanent supportive housing.

Shari Harrell, executive director of the YWCA, said when both groups started looking at the feasibility of having housing for women, it was determined to transform the former pool area of the YWCA into the housing.

Plans are to have the apartments ready by early 2014. They will be three-bedroom units.

“We reached out to Beatitude House, Someplace Safe and the Trumbull Housing Collaborative and talked about the need for housing. It was pretty clear from those meetings that the need was significant, especially for women and children to transition and be able to become self sufficient and move ahead with their lives,” Harrell said.

Harrell said she spoke to the Corporation for Supportive Housing regional chapter, which offers training for organizations interested in developing permanent supportive housing, which is the direction the YWCA is moving.

It was recommended a team be formed with Beatitude House.

“Beatitude House has had a lot of success with their housing programs for women and children in Trumbull and Mahoning counties,” Harrell said.

Representatives of both agencies have attended training sessions on permanent supportive housing. Both agencies will provide ongoing support and offer case management services.

Harrell said one of the components is to help individuals improve their situations and help them deal with any barriers and obstacles that keep them from becoming successful in their lives.

For the collaboration, focus is on how to best serve the families.

Harrell said the YWCA has licensed child care and youth activities, while Beatitude House has case management and supportive services.

“This can be a very powerful combination,” Harrell said.

Sister Patricia McNicholas, executive director of Beatitude House, said among the many advantages of working together is Beatitude House has 63 apartments for homeless women and children, 31 of them transitional, where individuals move from homelessness to permanent housing.

She said in other situations, there are serious long-term disabilities, where an individual needs permanent supportive housing while facing obstacles.

Currently, Mahoning County has 24 permanent housing units, and Trumbull has four located in Girard, working with Humility of Mary Health Partners, McNicholas said.

Harrell said for some individuals, struggles such as domestic violence are more severe. Progress may be more gradual, creating the need for permanent supportive housing.

McNicholas said transitional housing is one to two years, while the permanent housing is more than two years.

McNicholas said the need for the family to be in a stable system is important.

Harrell said the women and children would stay at the homes and receive supportive services and places to go if there are issues.

“The stability factor in their lives is crucial,” she said.

McNicholas said single women will also be served, with some apartment units to be for them, in addition to the units for women with children.