LaCurtis Bland, left, and Case Manager Antonio McCormack, right. SVDP has housed 50 people since last September.
LaCurtis Bland is moving into his own apartment this month. Bland has sought success and stability across the country in Los Angeles, Dallas, Detroit, and Chicago, before finally finding it at St. Vincent de Paul Louisville.
Bland credits the experience at Ozanam Inn Men’s Homeless Shelter with being able to find safe, affordable housing. This was in large part because our organization made a 180-degree change. Well, more like 24/7.
Though we’ve been around for 170 years, this September marks the one-year anniversary since Ozanam Inn became the most recent shelter to go 24/7. And that shift is saving lives.
“It caters to my flexibility, so, if I’m working night shift, all I have to do is sign out,” said LaCurtis Bland, a former client at Ozanam Inn. “I don’t have to change my schedule around when I come here. I think that helped out a lot. When I was staying at another homeless shelter in Louisville, I knew I couldn’t take any schedule for the job because I had to be back by 5 or 6 p.m.”
Between Sept. 1, 2022 and July 31, 2023, 50 Ozanam Inn clients exited to positive housing destinations.
“This city has the best programs for homeless people,” Bland added.
It has been a beacon of hope in a city still suffering from the effects of the pandemic, persistent inflation, and a continued need for more shelter space and affordable housing across the city.
Ozanam Inn, which opened in 1984 and has 50 beds including 10 private rooms, has seen the percentage of men going into permanent housing increase from 15% to 32% in the last year. This exceeds the national benchmark HUD sets at 25%. Though men are staying with us longer, they are accessing more services and obtaining housing at more than two times the previous success rate.
“By removing check-in and check-out, it instantly eliminates a lot of barriers, giving our clients stability and a place where they can reclaim their lives,” said Sam Schreier, Ozanam Inn Program Manager.
Most shelters up north are 24/7 because of the cold winters. However, the process at most local shelters is for clients to check-in at 3 p.m. and check-out at 8 a.m.
Prior to going 24/7 at Ozanam Inn, if clients didn’t check-in at 3 p.m. every day, they would lose their beds. With 24/7, we’ve created an environment where it’s easier for clients to focus on making progress towards gaining permanent housing, instead of worrying about whether they will have a bed to come back to.
“There’s less stress to find a place to stay and try to press forward,” said Antonio McCormack, Ozanam Inn Case Manager.
Here are several reasons why 24/7 services have helped our clients:
- At Ozanam Inn, our clients can leave whenever they need and only have to sign-in and sign-out once a day (whenever is most convenient for their schedule) so that they secure their bed.
- Since clients aren’t forced to roam the streets for seven hours a day, they are a lot more reachable for our nonprofit partners. Often, social service jobs are first shift, so it’s important to be able to connect with clients during the day.
- Clients have a place they can leave their belongings and an address to receive mail. Before, they had to take everything but a tote that could be left on the bed with them each morning—even if they had a job interview. It’s easier to find good work if you are well-rested, showered, and you know that your valuables are secured.
- It allows clients who work third shift to sleep during the day. Third shift typically pays higher wages, which is important for clients saving up.
- Even simple things like showering and doing laundry, which we often take for granted in our lives, has become easier in theirs. Now, clients don’t have to compete for a shower or the washer and dryer all at once, which reduces conflict.
In short, making this change restores dignity and autonomy for people who experience very little of that on the streets. This shift leads to people securing housing and finding jobs. It has also allowed us to be more true to our life-saving mission.