1 of 2
Hope for the Homeless
Christa Pizzaglia, center, is executive director of HOPE for the Homeless.
2 of 2
HOPE for the Homesless
Organizations from across Shreveport and Bossier City have united to help end homelessness.
Homelessness is not a new conversation in our country. It is, however, getting addressed in a new way. The 100,000 Homes Campaign is a national movement of more than 230 communities working together to find permanent homes for 100,000 chronic and medically vulnerable homeless Americans by July 2014. The 100,000 Homes community partners already have moved more than 83,000 homeless Americans into permanent housing nationally.
Powered and supported by a broad base of national and local partners, the Campaign helps communities turn their services systems into solution systems capable of ending street homelessness for good. And that is the goal -- to end homelessness. HOPE for the Homeless, Shreveport-Bossier’s homeless services consortium, has partnered with 100,000 Homes Campaign since 2010, and has successfully housed 125 individuals in our area under that initiative.
HOPE for the Homeless has headed northwest Louisiana’s homeless coalition since 2001. Each year, HUD provides more than $3 million designated to serve the homeless specifically. More than 60 agencies and individuals serving those who experience homelessness meet each month to take a “big picture” look at the solutions to end homelessness.
“We believe that every person deserves a door that locks, and we are willing to make that happen,” said Christa Pazzaglia, executive director of HOPE for the Homeless. “It takes a coalition of agencies to make that happen.”
And what a coalition they have. HOPE Connections, located at 2350 Levy St. in Shreveport, houses twelve agencies under one roof and offers everything from help with housing to substance abuse treatment referrals. Local organizations provide medical care to people without insurance, and various churches serve meals daily to those who visit.
The success of HOPE for the Homeless began to grow after the staff attended a conference held by the 100,000 Homes Campaign. “The 100,000 Homes Campaign says we can take people who cannot be housed and house them,” Pazzaglia said. “They are given vouchers and we prioritize their needs. Instead of putting the hardest to house at the bottom of the list, we make those people our top priority.”
The staff at HOPE for the Homeless does not expect clients to fall into a set of rules that do not work. As one of the leading organizations nationally who are housing people successfully, their success has come by doing almost anything it takes to get people off the street, as well as addressing the life decisions that resulted in their homelessness. Even with this approach, however, clients do not always stay compliant with the guidelines. “We wrap them with services and they stay there. We are not in the business of making people perfect, we are in the business of getting them off the street and [keeping them] housed. This new approach is completely backwards from how we were approaching homelessness before the 100,000 Homes Campaign strategies.”
A drop-in homeless center housed in the HOPE Connections building opened Feb. 3 that offers a range of services in a “one-stop” center for those in need. The new shelter will offer extended hours and has the capacity to serve 200 people a day. The facility also gives the opportunity to double the capacity of the smaller Hope House, which is located on Austin Place near downtown Shreveport, and is owned and operated by the Church of the Holy Cross. Recently HOPE Connections received the Audrey Nelson Achievement Award from the National Community Development Association for their work to end homelessness in northwest Louisiana.
A donation to HOPE for the Homeless strengthens the network of community providers and supports street outreach efforts. There are volunteer opportunities available and tax deductible donations are accepted. For more information visit www.nwlahope.org, or call (318) 670-4591.
By Deborah Allen