Cape Cod Officials Turning to ‘In from the Streets’ Program to Help Homeless

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HYANNIS – The recent bitter cold stretch is tapping out homeless services on Cape Cod and homeless advocates met with public safety officials yesterday in Hyannis to discuss actions needed to keep displaced individuals warm.

The consensus decision was to increase support for Duffy Health Center’s In from the Streets program when St. Joseph’s House in Hyannis, formerly the Noah Shelter, reaches maximum capacity, according to Paula Schnepp with the Cape and Islands Regional Network on Homelessness.

“They receive donations from various towns and individuals and since that program is up and running we thought that is where we want to make sure we’ve got the support,” Schnepp said.

In from the Streetsbegan in 2005 as a community-based response to homelessness.

Duffy Health Center was asked to administer the program when it was expanded to become a regional initiative. It has assisted hundreds of individuals since its inception.

The program offers temporary motel subsidies and multi-agency case management to persons experiencing homelessness.

By diversion from shelter, In From the Streets offers case management services and an initial step towards permanent housing, special programs, and a return to the community.

“They have existing relationships with area motels to place people there for a couple of nights with supervision and case management to try to move them to another housing situation as soon as possible,” Schnepp said.

St. Joseph’s House shelter is generally the first place homeless individuals end up. The shelter has the ability to house 50 people with an maximum overflow of 60.

“At that point, they need to coordinate with other agencies to find places for people to be out of the cold,” Schnepp said.

Schnepp said there were also discussions exploring the possibility of opening up another warming center this winter. A decision was made to just make sure people are out of the cold utilizing the In from the Streets program.

Officials will reconvene sometime in the spring after analyzing the experiences of this winter to create a long-term plan for winters to come.

More efforts will also be made throughout the winter to get individuals placed into permanent housing more quickly to free up shelter space.

“If we can move ‘em out that will deal with capacity issues there and also get people into more permanent housing more quickly,” Schnepp said.

Funding has been provided by the town of Barnstable to provide short-term solutions over the next week to place individuals under warm shelter.

Coordination efforts have been made to have various agencies provide food.

“The Council of Churches program is going to be doing some meal deliveries to these motel units to make sure people have food,” she said.

There has also been an increase in transportation services to make sure homeless individuals can get to the motels.

“The agencies are really working together to make sure people are identified and get to where they need to be,” Schnepp said.

By BRIAN MERCHANT, CapeCod.com NewsCenter

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