4/26/2022 By: Esther Kay
“A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him”- David Brinkley
In The Trenches
There are many reasons for the existence of non-profits, but most of them center around social and economic recovery and the preservation of life and dignity.
Our organization: Camp Hope operates in Yakima County.
Located in Central Washington State, Camp Hope provides a safe place to sleep, food, clothing, hygiene, case management, mental health services, access to assistance obtaining ID, health insurance, medical care, substance abuse treatment, access to VA and domestic violence services —-and much more.
While access to services have been available to residents of Yakima County, never before have they been provided all in one location, in a low barrier format to so many people experiencing homelessness in our area.
Camp Hope is what has been coined a “Bridge Organization” by other Homeless services providers in the US.
A “Bridge Org.” Is an organization that takes all the services in the areas of need and brings them to a central location, eliminates barriers to people who might not otherwise be reached due to lack of ID, lack of transportation, mental health issues, or the presence of a criminal record and literally bridges the gap between people experiencing street homelessness and the services they need, but haven’t been able to obtain on their own.
With this model, Camp Hope and other non-profits serving communities experiencing homelessness have seen huge success in not only reaching previously unreachable people, but in actually getting them from the street, getting them healthy and stable and into housing that lasts. I.e. —the people who are placed in housing don’t usually end up right back on the street because they have been stabilized first, have been taught life and coping skills which allow them to maintain independence.
With such an amazing concept——why would communities do anything different?
Ahh—-that is the question isn’t it?
The Elephant In The Room
The “Business Of Homelessness”
For many years communities have struggled to find the “silver bullet” that would end homelessness, but for every success there have been many more ideas and programs which have drastically missed the mark on effectiveness.
One such idea which has been largely unsuccessful has been the hotel voucher program.
While on the surface the idea seems simple enough—-nothing that involves a person with free will ever is…
A business owner calls to complain about an individual who has set up camp on their property creating a danger due to filth, possibly aggressive behavior and/or open drug use.
Cities, police, fire and EMS cannot force a person to move, cannot take them into custody (often even if the person is violent—-because if they have any mental illness the prosecutors won’t prosecute—-that’s a whole separate issue.)
This leaves the business owner feeling frustrated, the City officials frustrated, the public frustrated and the person experiencing homelessness is still living in filth and without safety and services they so desperately need.
The solution: Give them a hotel voucher!
This solution temporarily gets the person off the street (and —let’s face it—out of view) The police can move on to other calls, the business owner can now do business —etc.
But it doesn’t change anything…
3 days later, two weeks later, 30 days later—-that person is right back out on the street—no better off than they were before, only now that community has paid several thousand dollars to put a bandaid on a broken leg.
Why does this matter?
Because bridge organizations, shelters and other programs that produce long term results are competing from the same pot of funding that failing ideas such as hotel vouchers come out of.
What does this mean?
In a nutshell it means that for every person who obtains a 30 day hotel voucher— that equals thousands of dollars less funding available for organizations like Camp Hope who are actually making a difference in people’s lives.
So —not only is the hotel voucher a bandaid —-it’s a gold plated, name brand—-ultra marked up bandaid you had to buy from the airport gift shop.
Let’s take a fictional number of people—-say 50 and lets assume that the voucher costs $100 per night. Now let’s multiply by 30 days —-that adds up to $150,000, for 50 people, for 30 days…
That gets them NOTHING except a room, no food, no services——just a bed.
Now let’s take Camp Hope, who for around $16 a day is able to provide a safe bed, food, clothing, bathrooms, case management, services etc…..
To me the choice is obvious , but there are many many organizations who don’t want to operate at the low level of funding that Camp Hope operates under ——and that’s their choice—-ours is to help as many people as possible.
The Struggle Is Real
The last layer of the funding struggle cake is: bureaucracy.
Different funding sources have different requirements, and often —-the higher the level of government funding, the more requirements.
Most of the funding open to organizations like Camp Hope are what are called “reimbursable grants” which basically mean that Camp Hope puts it’s hat in the ring to obtain a portion of funding available, are awarded a portion, but get $0 up front…That’s right——-ZERO.
A reimbursable grant is essentially like a mail in rebate——you put up all the money first, then you put together the required documentation about how you spent the money —-then the funding source gets to decide if you have met the criteria to get reimbursed, at what percentage and when.
There are no guarantees that what you spend will get reimbursed. None.
It is for THIS reason that Camp Hope values our private donors and volunteer family so highly——because without you—-we wouldn’t be able to keep the gates open for every person looking for a safe place for new beginnings.
It’s your contributions that allow us to continue to pay our employees to keep the people in our care safe, warm, clean and moving the needle further toward health and independence——-so please don’t stop!
You could be the difference between dying on the street alone, or thriving in community for people in the Yakima Valley.
Whether you’ve given a dollar, or thousands, give of your time weekly, monthly—or even just one time——-we’d like to thank you——because you are making a difference in every life that comes through our gate—every day.
If you would like the opportunity to partner with Camp Hope in making a safe place for new beginnings for people experiencing homelessness—-please join us for our annual GALA
“A Night Of Hope” (here’s the link to purchase tickets) And please—-spread the word!