Press release from Homeward Bound of WNC:
In Buncombe County, more than 500 people experience homelessness on any given night. Homeward Bound is focused on reducing that number by including a strategy that diverts people from the system before they become homeless.
Homeward Bound coordinated a Diversion Training for homeless service providers last week that was attended by 47 individuals representing 14 local organizations including ABCCM, Western Carolina Rescue Ministries, The Mediation Center, Salvation Army, City of Asheville, Buncombe County, Helpmate, Our Voice, United Way/211, Mission Hospital, Vaya Health, Pisgah Legal Services and the VA Medical Center.
“There was great representation from our community’s homeless service system,” says Homeward Bound Strategic Initiatives Director Emily Ball. “This was unprecedented collaboration from service providers on problem-solving homelessness before it really begins, which has huge potential to reduce the number of people who become homeless in our community.”
The training was hosted by First Baptist Church and partially funded by The City of Asheville and TD Charitable Foundation. Lehman Busbee, with the Cleveland Mediation Center in Ohio, trained the nonprofit attendees over three days. The Cleveland Mediation Center pioneered this client centered conflict resolution approach to diverting people from homelessness. With community-wide implementation of diversion practices, Cleveland has helped about 20% of people who are newly experiencing housing crises avoid homelessness.
Participants learned how to help people in housing crises think creatively about ways to resolve their housing needs using resources they already have, such as family and friends, in order to avoid the trauma of homelessness. By empowering people to regain control of their lives, rather than immediately referring them to a community program, diversion benefits the person in crisis while also allowing the limited resources available to stretch further and serve people with no other options.
Because so many agencies were represented, participants were also able to learn from each other about relevant services in the community and to further relationships with other service providers. They will circle back with each other in a few months and discuss how their diversion strategies are working, what they have learned and what impact they are seeing.
For more information on Homeward Bound of WNC or diversion, contact Emily Ball at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.Homewardboundwnc.org.