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Homeless shelter shows results

April 24, 2001

Alex Coolman

SOUTHWEST GLENDALE -- In the middle of the morning, the sleeping area

at Project Achieve is empty. The beds are neatly made, with small piles

of bags and blankets stacked on the mattresses.

Tacked on the cubicle wall by one bed is a photograph of a boy. He's a

child too young to have much understanding of what it means to be

homeless.

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At Project Achieve, though, the faces of homeless children are

familiar. Between one-fourth and half of the roughly 40 residents who

stay at the shelter at any given time are generally children whose

families are caught without housing, said Lynn Berry, the director of

clinical and residential services for the organization.

But in a way, the kids who come to this airy, clean shelter are

fortunate. That's because Project Achieve, according to a recent

evaluation of the homeless services available in Glendale, is often a

relatively quick road to self-sufficiency and independence.

The study took a look at the types of care that are available in the

city and how effective they are at providing solutions for the homeless.

One of the outstanding performers in the study was Project Achieve.

Where the report shows the average time for an individual to be homeless

in the city is 26.3 months and residents of the winter shelter program

tend to spend an average of 37.9 months, Project Achieve participants

stayed homeless for only 6.5 months.

Part of the reason for the numbers, explained Glendale Senior

Administrative Analyst Stacy Rowe, is simply that the city's homeless

services are set up to produce these kinds of results.

Where the winter shelter is intended strictly as emergency housing and

caters to a population that often has serious problems, Project Achieve

is aimed at the individuals and families who are closer to maintaining

self-sufficiency.

"They're serving who they're set up to serve," she said.

Still, Rowe said, the numbers on Project Achieve were a "very good

success rate."

Contributing to this success, Berry said, is Project Achieve's

commitment to case management. From the moment a potential client walks

in the door, case managers work to evaluate what, specifically, that

person's needs are and how they can be addressed.

"If they're shelter hoppers, we don't take them," Berry said.

Project Achieve also doesn't try to house people dealing with domestic

violence or substance abuse problems, veterans who are struggling with

housing, or some other categories of clients. Those individuals are

referred instead to other agencies -- such as Catholic Charities or the

YWCA's Sunrise Village -- that can better serve them.

For those who stay, the program is rigorous. Clients have about 60

days to stay and are expected to work and save 80% of their income during

that time. At the end of the period, with the help of the case workers,

clients are expected to be moving toward self-sufficiency.

"There's always a plan," Berry said.

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