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PROGRAMS
Assessment and Case Management
Medical Services
Mental Health Services
Substance Abuse Services
Veterans Services
Education Program and On-Site Classes
Employment Services
Housing Services
Transportation
Safe Zone
Foodshare Committee

   PROGRAMS

OC Programs - Helping the homeless get back home.

Assessment and Case Management

Here is the entry point to social services for the homeless clients. The process begins at the Shelter’s front desk or through referrals from Homeless Coalition members. Five social workers respond to client sign-in, or frequent the Shelter entry and waiting areas to help direct clients to the services that they desire. Identification documents (e.g., birth certificate) are the greatest challenge in initiating services since two identification documents are required to receive food stamps, for example. Other valid identification documents are a state ID, social security card, voter’s registration, and driver’s license. Case workers deal with approximately 15 to 20 new clients/week. ID documents that are not on the client’s person are ordered for a fee, and take up to six weeks to receive. It is the case workers who usually first provide the homeless clients with personal care items (e.g., toothbrush) once they are inside the Shelter.

Medical Services

Outpatient medical services, by Centro San Vicente, are offered in a clinical setting (4 examination rooms) containing its own pharmacy. The medical clinic is staffed by two nurse practitioners and four LVNs. This program averages 270 clients/month. The benefits of an on-site medical clinic include the possibilities of practicing preventative medicine and greatly reducing the use of expensive EMS and hospital facilities as surrogate doctor’s office facilities.

Mental Health Services

These services consist of two programs, counseling and outpatient psychiatric. Counseling services consist of individual, group, family, and outreach counseling; services offered five days/week. A staff psychiatrist is available for outpatient services four days/week. Combined programs average 180 clients/month. The major benefits of these programs are one stop services to move the clients into satisfactory relationship situations, to break cycles of domestic violence, to break addictive cycles, to keep clients out of the legal system and out of jail, and to keep clients from initiating expensive emergency medical system (EMS) and hospital episodes.

Substance Abuse Services

Aliviane Inc. offers drug screening and an assessment of needs; and case management and referrals to appropriate providers in order to stabilize the homeless substance abuser. Most substance abuse clients have co-occurring disorders, mental illness and substance abuse, that requires significant intervention. This program conducts client site visits and street outreach. The goal of the program is to help stabilize the client into a transitional living environment.

Veterans Services

Homeless persons claiming veteran status are screened to determine if they have a general or honorable discharge. Once military discharge status is verified, these single men are eligible for the Veterans Transitional Living Center (VTLC). [Single women veterans live at the Women’s SRO.] The VTLC is a three story facility having 20 rooms. Ten of the rooms are designated for the chronically mentally ill, and ten rooms are designated for those of normal mental health status. Veterans living at the facility must maintain a self-sufficiency plan that is reviewed with their case worker twice per month. The veterans must be in school, training, pending-pension benefits, and/or employed. They may reside at the VTLC for up to two years. Veterans who complete their program are often placed into permanent housing. The VTLC veterans are eligible for medical benefits through the VA hospital component at Beaumont Army Medical Center.

Educational Counseling/On-Site Classes

Clients are tested to determine their level of education, and then placed in classes accordingly. The educational focus of the OC is language and computer skills. Language skills are essential for GED preparation, and computer skills are essential for living and job skill preparation. There are two full-time ESL (English as a Second Language) teachers, and one part-time computer teacher/technician. The educational programs are housed within the shelter facility; there is one large classroom and one large computer lab (approximately 20 computers). Computer classes include training in WORD, Power Point, Access, Excel, and keyboarding. A five day class is required to use Internet services. Outreach classes (provided by visiting instructors) include life skills that focus on everything from Resume writing to interviewing; nutrition regarding healthful cooking and eating; and financial literacy. The educational staff also help with the college entry process including entrance and grant applications. The ESL classes retain approximately 60 out of 100 clients per year. The computer classes average approximately 200 clients per year. El Paso Community College has been a consistent contributor and supporter of the many educational programs at the Opportunity Center.

Employment Services

Homeless clients fill out a work plan if they are interested in employment; they must have valid identification to work. There are local work opportunities for day laborers, and out-of-town companies (e.g., meat packers) looking for unskilled labor. In-town operations such as the Texas Workforce, Labor Ready, and Sears also offer some opportunities for employment for those who will get a certification using a fork lift or being a security guard. Programs are currently being pursued with the El Paso Community College to include training for the trade professions (e.g., plumbing). Once a homeless client is back in the workforce, they regain some confidence in their ability to once again become self sufficient. Employment case management helps the working clients acquire proper work clothes, respond to immediate job referrals, and obtain certifications. There are approximately 30 to 40 new homeless clients seeking work each month.

Housing Services

The OC multiple services approach are to stabilize the homeless by transitioning them from the shelter facility, and placing them into a transitional living setting where they can focus on recovery issues. Referrals for transitional and permanent housing come from every corner of the Homeless Coalition. Limited housing options make transitioning homeless men, in particular, a continuous challenge. It is also important to have access to the local housing authorities because of the very low income clients. Generally, it is the low income clients transitioning into permanent housing. The benefit of this program is moving the homeless beyond the shelter environment, into a place one can again call home.

Transportation

This service operates out of the OC Shelter with two 15-passenger vans, one dispatcher, and three drivers (two part-time). The transportation service operates five days/week between the hours of 5:45 am and 5:30 pm. Clients from all 29 Coalition for the Homeless shelters typically call in to schedule daily rides between the hours of 6 am and 9 am. The Transportation office also keeps an updated advance appointment book that usually schedules weeks in advance, and the dispatcher will make a reminder call the day before the client’s appointment. This service averages 100 passengers/day. The transportation program has been in operation since 1999. The vans log well over 100,000 miles/year.

Youth Services

This program targets homeless youth between the ages of 17 and 23 years. Program intake and emergency services are available 24 hours/day, 365 days/year. The program serves about 100 youth/year including their dependents; most of the youth suffer from substance abuse and addictive problems. Youth housing is provided through single room occupancy (SRO) facilities, other Homeless Coalition facilities, or the OC Shelter facilities. This program is oriented toward getting the youth into a supportive, productive environment, and onto a positive life’s path. The youth have access to the OC system of client services. Particular program benefits and emphasis are placed upon completing one’s education, and maintaining a job.

Safe Zone

Up to 15 recovering alcoholic or addicted single men participate in a very rigorous, minimum, 90-day program in an effort to again become self-sufficient, and become a productive member of the community. Depending on individual recovery circumstances, a man may be in the program 180 days or longer. The recovering men helped create this program, and are closely monitored; they are required to write their own self-sufficiency plan. In addition, these men must volunteer and work within the OC facilities as a way to earn their keep, and use their talents and skills. By the end of their program stay, the men are to be ready for training programs or the job market.

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