Bethesda Center for the Homeless
Bethesda Center for the Homeless began in 1987 as a partnership between First Presbyterian Church, Winston-Salem and the Forsyth/Stokes Mental Health Center. From that beginning, Bethesda has emerged as a leader in caring for the community’s most desperate homeless individuals, becoming the largest provider of emergency night shelter as well as continuing to be the area’s only day shelter. This month, HandsOn was pleased to bestow our third High Five Award to Bethesda Center. Funded by the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust, this award is designed to recognize and honor a nonprofit within our service area that has demonstrated an imaginative or creative way to improve program/service delivery, create a new program, or develop a unique or inventive method to address a particular problem or initiative.
In 2009, HUD's Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing (HEARTH) Act was enacted. The Act made numerous changes to HUD’s prior homeless assistance programs, most significantly to an overall shift in focus from shelter to housing. The new emphasis on rapid re-housing for homeless families and the creation of permanent supportive housing for chronically homeless individuals brought a bevy of new regulations and funding changes to Bethesda and other organizations who serve this population in Forsyth County. Bethesda devised two new, innovative systems to help them fulfill the requirements as part of their daily operations. First, an electronic badge system was introduced to identify clients as they enter the shelter and could be used by the individual as they interacted with others in the community as well. This innovative system replaced a manual one, drastically reducing staff time. The second was an electronic model that tracks clients’ length of stay, automatically alerting case managers at certain points during the initial 90 day period and incorporating a color coding system to help them easily see a client’s unique timeline. Further, the new system will help identify common barriers the homeless population faces in obtaining long term housing solutions, which will, in turn, help the Center determine gaps in its services and plan accordingly for the future.
HandsOn NWNC presented Bethesda with this award at our 5th Anniversary celebration on November 20th. To learn more about the other High Five Award nominees, please download the full program.
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