In 2010, Family Services Crisis Center, Freedom House and Integrated Community Solutions launched Supporting Our Families Together (SOFT) as a collaborative project aimed at efficiently providing services to unsheltered families with children in Brown County with the goal of ending homelessness. The project provides immediate placement in area motels with intensive, onsite case management. The basic eligibility criteria focuses available resources for Brown County families who have no other resources for shelter. Project participants are self-referred or referred from other service and shelter providers who are unable to assist a particular family. The SOFT Project Case Manager or Family Services Crisis Counselor meets with the family to explore all other options, both informal supports like family and friends and formal supports like all area emergency shelter providers, including surrounding community shelters such as the Fox Valley Emergency Shelter, when appropriate. Where there are no alternative solutions for shelter, the SOFT Project offers shelter through an Emergency Motel Voucher and Case Management services.
In addition to the three main SOFT partners, the local McKinney-Vento Programs are a major partner and program referral source for this project as well as providing child advocacy, ensuring that the needs of the minor children in the households are adequately addressed. The SOFT Project also continues to partner with Freedom House's transitional living program at its west side location, The Bridge. Throughout its seven seasons, the collaboration of the three main partners, local school McKinney-Vento personnel and motel partners have made it possible to provide the shelter and case management services at the very efficient average cost of $13.40 per person, per night.
Below is a snapshot of our Season Six statistics:
The number of families that can be served during the SOFT Season (October-June) is based on available funding. The primary source of funding at this time is Brown County United Way. SOFT successfully completed a three year funding cycle supported by the Greater Green Bay Community Foundation. There is limited funding from private donors. The SOFT Case manager works with local groups and individuals to raise awareness and funds. For more information, please contact the SOFT Case Manager.
Long-term supportive housing is an housing option for families who are having a difficult time finding safe and affordable housing. It is also for families who would benefit from continued case management/supportive services on their journey to self-sufficiency. It is for families who are employed, yet earn less than 50% of our area's median income.
EPH began its long-term supportive housing process in 2013 with a vision to address the challenges of affordable housing for homeless families in our community. The initial model was to provide affordable housing by working through landlords. EPH is now working on its model as the owner of long term supportive housing opportunities for families.
Freedom House along with The Salvation Army and Golden House work collaboratively with EPH to provide case management for families in the EPH's long term supportive housing. The two most essential roles of the collaborating partners are to provide family assessment and selection for the housing and to provide support services (case management and other solutions) for the selected families. The value and impact of our collaborative relationship provides safety, stability and solutions for each family while minimizing the disruption of relationships for families. For example, if Freedom House is serving a family who would benefit from EPH's long-term supportive housing program, Freedom House would continue to provide support services and advocacy for the family they refer.
The Bridge houses a transitional living program, a State licensed group child care center and the future Family EnRICHment Center. Our rent-based transitional living program serves homeless families with children who are unable to move into permanent housing from a shelter or other community program. With the help of case management and supportive programing, families are given time to overcome barriers and take the next steps in their journey towards self-sufficiency. Eight fully furnished apartments, a shared resource room, laundry room, and a “Bridge Store” stocked with hygiene and household items provide a safe, clean and encouraging community for families during this time of transition.
Freedom House works collaboratively with Golden House, the Green Bay, Howard-Suamico, West De Pere school districts and other community agencies when needed by our families.