BEDS Plus recently sat down with Katie Spoden of the Alliance to End Homelessness in Suburban Cook County. Katie is the Continuum of Care Planning Director for the agency.
BEDS: Katie can you describe your position?
Katie: My job includes implementing community-wide plans to prevent and end homelessness; planning for the strategic use and equitable distribution of federal funding and leveraging new resources to end homelessness across suburban Cook County. The Alliance is asked to be a consultant on how to allocate funding to our service providers throughout suburban Cook County in ways that align with our strategic plan to prevent homelessness, provide emergency shelter, and connect people with safe and stable housing. We are the bridge between funding decision-makers and the agencies who provide direct services. We must be aware of all the funding streams and how they work so that we can advocate for the homelessness response system.
BEDS: We are focused on Diversion from Homelessness in the month of June. Can you explain the idea so our supporters can understand the concept?
Katie: Essentially, we are asking housing-focused, problem-solving questions of individuals in crisis to find out if there is a safe and stable place they can go as an alternative to the shelter system. This safe place might be with a family member across the country, for example. That person might not be able to afford the bus ticket and the cost of food during the journey, but with a small amount of funding they would be able to end their housing crisis. We approached the United Way about providing flexible funding to support diversion efforts across our CoC. Through a partnership funded by a United Way grant, a group of agencies have a pot of flexible funds to be able to do things like pay for bus tickets, groceries, car repairs, or other things that can end a person’s housing crisis so that they do not have to enter emergency shelter.