Housing and Homeless

Innovative short-term shelter approach shows signs of success at UMOM

Wraparound services prove to be successful in helping navigate the process of finding permanent housing

PHOENIX (STN) – Despite the staggering numbers of people suffering from homelessness in the greater Phoenix area, evidence suggests that well-thought-out programs designed to help are succeeding.

In 2023, UMOM New Day Centers served over 600 families and, through their innovative approach, managed to transition a staggering 80% of them into permanent housing.

“We are big believers that homelessness should be rare and brief and non-reoccurring,” said UMOM CEO Jackson Fonder. “But, there’s not a silver bullet to this. No easy button.”

For the May episode of It Happens at STN, Fonder joined a panel discussion with UMOM COO Monique Lopez and Chief Programs Officer Mila Valle, along with Keys to Change CEO Amy Schwabenlender.

The innovative approach proving successful for UMOM focuses on providing short-term shelter and a full array of assistance programs aimed at finding housing.

“What we are seeing at UMOM is that a short-term shelter stay is critical to the success of our families,” Lopez said. “We also believe that a program model rooted in case management and wraparound services, not only works but is a cost-effective, successful way of serving the most vulnerable families.”

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As the Chief Programs Officer at UMOM, Valle sees the value of those wraparound services, such as job searches, family health assistance, and navigating the complexities of the shelter system. And it starts with case managers.

“When a family comes to UMOM, their journey begins with compassion and support,” Valle said. “They’re connected with the case manager and that case manager is dedicated to that family and the success of that family. We’ve decided to call our case managers, care navigators because they care about the families.”

A similar focus on wrap-around services is working for Schwabenlender’s team at Keys to Change, and she emphasized that one-on-one attention is critical in shortening the length of time someone needs shelter.

“I love the care navigator because words matter, people aren’t cases,” Schwabenlender explained. “Whether you’re sheltered or not, it’s having that person that helps you formulate that plan.”

“We’ve proven that case management [and] care navigation is successful,” Fonder concluded. “With the right case management and the right wraparound services, it makes for a highly successful initiative to get people out of homelessness.”

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