LOCS & KEYS: Opening the door to new possibilities

Life and career skills are essential in ending homelessness for the hundreds of families that UMOM serves. Recently, UMOM updated the life skill, education and employment program for adults at UMOM with the LOCS and KEYS program.

LOCS (Launching Our Career Success) Program encompasses employment, adult education, GED and vocational training.   LOCS Coordinators and are responsible for coordinating the provision of education and employment services at the Van Buren Campus and at the permanent affordable housing sites.

As part of our LOCS Program, our AWEE Employment Specialist partner coordinates job fairs, job training, and supports our residents in obtaining and maintaining jobs.  Residents receive individual attention  to assist them in navigating their personal path to employment.

In conjunction with our LOCS Program, our KEYS (Keys to Enhancing Your Success) Program is inclusive of life skills classes such as managing a household, parenting, stress management and time management.  Our KEYS Coordinators address the provision of life skills and enrichment services at New Day Center and at the permanent affordable housing sites.

Learn more by viewing the LOCS and KEYS video below.

You can make an impact and support homeless families.

Raising Awareness and Empowering Survivors

Join UMOM in observing Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Purple RibbonIn Arizona, one in four women will experience domestic violence. Since 2009 UMOM’s Domestic Violence program has provided safe shelter and services to over 1,300 individuals. UMOM’s Domestic Violence shelter offers survivors of abuse and their children a safe place to stay and access to many resources needed to regain their independence. UMOM’s housing program also connects domestic violence survivors with a permanent, safe place to live when exiting shelter.

UMOM’s Domestic Violence program includes a 63 bed facility at an undisclosed location with 24 hour security to ensure families’ safety. Families have access to private rooms, with an on-site cafeteria as well as clothing and resources that include safety planning, counseling, child care, health care, advocacy and more. Additionally, housing assessments are completed for all clients at intake so they can create a plan to return to housing while in shelter.

UMOM is committed to protecting survivors of domestic violence and their families and connecting them with housing and resources to help them become successful. This year the program’s achievements include:

  • 109 families served including 123 Adults and 252 Children
  • 98% of victims did not return the person to the who abused them (who reported destination upon shelter exit)
  • 47 families exited to permanent safe housing

UMOM’s Domestic Violence shelter helps people like Regina*, a smart, compassionate, single mother who is a domestic violence survivor. She found safety, stability and success for her family at UMOM. She worked with a case manager and advocate to create a safety plan and goals for herself and her children, access quality child care, and stabilize employment.

Regina worked with a UMOM housing specialist and found a safe, permanent place for her family to stay when they left the shelter. Regina and her children are doing well and have had no contact with their abuser.

UMOM’s Domestic Violence shelter gives survivors of abuse and their children a safe place to recover from trauma and provides them with the resources they need to regain their independence. Celebrate Regina’s story with us. Throughout the month of October, you can join UMOM New Day Centers in raising awareness for Domestic Violence.  You can join us in the following ways:

  •  Wear purple on “Wear Purple Day” Friday, October 18th
  •  Support UMOM programs and donate online
  •  Visit http://paintphoenixpurple.org/ to learn more about the City of Phoenix Campaign for Domesitc Violence Awareness
  • Donate items for UMOM’s Domestic Violence shelter such as: toiletry items, diapers, towels and linens, & gently used clothing
  •  Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to see our updates during Domestic Violence Awareness Month and throughout the year

 

*Name changed to protect confidentiality of individual.

New Day Garden: Nourishing Families and Futures

Over the summer UMOM staff and volunteers at the Van Buren campus have been working closely together to revitalize the on-site vegetable garden. After many hours of working in the sun and the dirt, the results have been phenomenal!

The garden was restored with the vision of creating an on-campus resource to provide healthy produce for UMOM’s food service program, create learning opportunities for residents and to have another engaging volunteer opportunity on campus.

It has truly been a group effort preparing and nurturing the garden to grow the harvest of vegetables. The project was kicked off by Tempe South Rotary, led by retired UMOM employee Gary Law.  There have been many volunteer groups who have donated their time in the garden. This summer UMOM hosted groups from the Arizona Diamondbacks, Aramark, DPR Construction, Westin Kierland Villas, Avnet, Navigant and Intel. The efforts of these groups have been essential in cultivating the garden. The rewards of all the hard work show up in the kitchen where the vegetables have been used to supplement the new salad bar on campus which encourages residents to eat healthy and introduces children to new foods.

Future plans for the garden include expansion into other unused garden beds around campus to provide even more homegrown vegetables for the families, creating opportunities for the youth on campus to get involved with gardening activities, and incorporating the produce into our social enterprises.

UMOM is looking forward to the future harvests full of healthy produce thanks to the support of local volunteer groups.

Housing First For Families

UMOM is proud to be a part of the 100,000 Homes Campaign! Together with other partner agencies we are implementing a plan to house chronically homeless individuals and families.  UMOM has committed 25 units to house the most vulnerable families and so far this month three families have signed leases to move into permanent housing.

With all of our housing interventions, UMOM has identified a gap for families needing more than two years of transitional housing due to permanent disabling conditions other than a diagnosis of a Serious Mental Illness.  Currently, there are no permanent supportive housing options for such families.  Frequently, these families experience multiple episodes of homelessness.  UMOM New Day Centers is opening 25 units of permanent supportive housing for disabled homeless families with dependent children.

The program will provide 20 two-bedrooms and 5 three-bedrooms units to serve 25 families exiting homelessness.

UMOM’s goal is to provide an environment where the families can be the most successful. The units are located around the valley so that the participants can identify a home near his/her natural supports.  We want them to have access to transportation, family, employment, medical care, and quality schools that they are comfortable with.

UMOM hired two Family Support Specialists to provide intensive support services to ensure the basic needs of all family members are met and that the families do not return to homelessness.  Families qualifying for this program will have ongoing service needs, and we believe our Family Support Specialists will be key to keeping them stably housed.

Support services will include regular and frequent contact with the Family Support Specialists to help families facilitate school enrollment and attendance, child care options, referrals to counseling and treatment, recovery activities and support groups, food security, health insurance, job skills training, employment search, parenting classes and support groups, and meaningful connections within the community.

We could not do this on our own. UMOM recognizes the importance of leveraging resources and working with other agencies in the community. UMOM is partnering with HOM, Inc. for the Housing First for Families program.  HOM, Inc. has a network of over 400 landlords throughout Maricopa County that participate in permanent supportive housing programs, providing numerous quality housing opportunities for families.

This program will help mothers like Sierra, a  22 year old single parent, who left home at the age of 16.  She has 5 children under age 8, one who is severely disabled. With many evictions, the family didn’t have a stable home for two years prior to coming to UMOM. Sierra has been a victim of domestic violence, and also suffers from depression. Now in recovery, she has been battling substance abuse for years.

Earning an income is difficult for Sierra. She has no GED and she is unable to work due to her child’s disability. Housing support through the Housing First for Families program will provide Sierra with a safe, permanent housing solution, where she has the support to help her family. This new program will be life-changing for Arizona’s most vulnerable families.

In addition to providing housing support, UMOM is collecting furnishings and household items so families have the necessities they need to be successful. If you are interested in donating items, gift cards or would like to make a monetary contribution to this project, please call 602-275-7852 or visit http://www.umom.org/get-involved/donate/.

Next Step Housing Stories of Success

 

As you may already know, UMOM provides more than just emergency shelter and transitional housing to our community.  Since our

Kids from a Next Step Housing community participate in a sports camp this summer

merger with Helping Hands Housing Services in 2009 we have also provided permanent, affordable housing.

 

UMOM currently offers 320 units of affordable housing to the community and is planning to further expand that inventory in 2013.  Our rental communities are different than just a standard apartment complex – at each of our four locations we have a Program Center for families and a Program Coordinator who helps to offer after-school programs, GED classes, tutoring, and many other fun and educational activities for the resident families.

 

We want to share with you some recent stories of success from our Next Step Housing programs:

 

  • Two mothers from our Casa de Paz Fillmore property have received their GED!  Both ladies have overcome many barriers in their lives and have turned negatives in their pasts into positives for their futures.  UMOM Program Coordinators worked with both moms throughout their journeys to successfully complete the GED tests. Both ladies remained determined to show their kids what hard work can do.  Both are planning to start community college in the spring.
  • We have another Next Step resident participating in the construction of his own home through Habitat for Humanity!  As a single father he has hit many bumps in the road but he has made positive changes and always puts his children first.  He should be a homeowner in less than a year.
  • A teen resident of Casa de Paz Fillmore has become a regular volunteer at the Program Center.  The experience helping to put together activities and assist the Program Coordinator has helped her learn responsibility and maturity.

These are just a few of the amazing stories of success from the UMOM Next Step Housing communities!  Your continued support of UMOM New Day Centers, especially during the upcoming holiday season, helps us create even more positive changes for our community.  Thank you!

About the Author

Michelle Davidson, Public Relations Manager mdavidson@umom.org Michelle joined UMOM in March, 2011 after years of running her own public relations and marketing firm.  Michelle handles all external communications for UMOM, including website, social media, newsletters and collateral.  All press inquiries and requests should also go through Michelle.