It is with a heavy heart and great sadness that I let our community and friends know that Arcata House Partnership did not receive the core funding from the state that we have counted on for nearly 20 years. While we are still trying to understand what happened, the board and staff and I are working hard to re-group and re-configure our programs.
As you may remember, we expanded services two years ago when Arcata House and the Humboldt All Faith Partnership merged. With the merger, Arcata House Partnership became the sole provider of services to homeless individuals and families in the northern Humboldt Bay area. We were encouraged by the Department of Housing and Community Development to expand again a year ago when we added a small pilot rapid re-housing program. Rapid re-housing represents a new approach, based on current research, which provides people with financial support and then provides services once they are housed. The research shows that when we can shorten the time a person is homeless, they are more likely to remain stably housed.
The rapid re-housing program and our family shelter programs were mainly funded with these federal funds that were passed down to communities through the state. The Night Shelter also received some funding from this program. We were very fortunate because this funding made it possible for us to operate these programs effectively with minimal support from the community. It is disappointing, not only that we were not funded, but that no funding was received by any rural agency north of Santa Rosa. This leaves our community without these valuable resources that were helping families and individuals quickly secure permanent housing. With the re-configuration of the Multiple Assistance Center in Eureka, there are few resources for families with children.
Despite this loss of funding, we are aware that homelessness has reached a crisis point in our community, so we are doing everything we can to keep our doors open. Our plan is to decrease the number of people at the Night Shelter effective July 1. Our goal is to raise enough money by the fall to return to full capacity when the weather is cold and miserable. We will also cut back on case management and supportive services at the Family Shelter and completely close down the rapid re-housing program. We will continue to submit applications for funding, but the necessity to cut back programs may make our application even less competitive.
I have reached out to other local service providers and we are working together to see how we can combine forces to expand our capacity to compete in future application rounds. We are also working closely with our state legislators to advocate for funding for rural communities like ours.
We have already begun to reach out to our circle of supporters, our long time donors and others who can help us keep our programs going at levels that will enable us to compete for funding with urban providers. We are hoping that our community will step up as they have in the past. If 200 people donate $1,000 or 2,000 people donate $100, we will have enough funding to bring us back to our previous capacity.
It is a very difficult time for all of us at AHP, but we all feel hopeful that with the support of our caring community, we will weather this storm and return to full capacity supporting the most vulnerable in the community.
Karen “Fox” Olson, MSW, LCSW, has been the executive director of Arcata House Partnership since 2001. During this time, she and her co-workers have helped hundreds of people move out of homelessness. She will continue to do everything she can to make sure that everyone has a place to live that is safe, decent and affordable.