One Door Helping Homeless and Poverty Stricken Individuals Navigate Life
A typical day inside One Door’s office at the Springfield Affordable Housing Center yields dozens of people, all with different stories and many issues or hurdles to overcome.
Recently, a client with several chronic illnesses and an 11 year old child visited needing assistance because she was struggling to make it to dialysis and to keep a roof over her family’s head. After navigating several emergency shelter options, One Door staff eventually helped by placing her in a motel and by providing bus tickets to help her get to dialysis.
Michael Tonarely, the Director of One Door and the Springfield Affordable Housing Center says transportation remains one of the top three needs the
Center sees each month. “Unfortunately, we know that there are links between transportation and people living in poverty,” said Tonarely. Shelter and
affordable housing round out the top three needs by clients.
Each of these paints a bigger picture of the vicious cycle created once people fall into poverty or homelessness. Without transportation, people can’t make appointments and follow through on things that could help them stabilize. And without a roof over their head, it’s hard to worry about anything else. “They are never going to be able to break the cycle if they are constantly trying to find a place to live,” said Tonarely.
Initially, one would expect that clients would be placed in shelters, but that’s not always possible. Tonarely said that acceptance to many shelters is based on meeting a set of criteria or rules. This often leaves his clients with nowhere to go. In the summer months alone, he says the need for hotel/
motel vouchers is high because annual allocated funds that come in during the winter are often depleted by this point.
This is an issue because a family can typically be housed in a hotel/motel for up to three weeks, but with no funding to support this model, that stay shortens to typically only a week. “In two to three weeks we are able to provide better crisis intervention and education, but if they are only housed
for a week, they are constantly going back to a state of homelessness and the focus goes back to housing,” said Tonarely.
Ultimately, the goal for One Door is to stabilize families, and to do this clients must be able to get to appointments and must have a place to get ready each morning.
Currently, One Door averages 140 assessments per month with an additional 1250 contacts via phone, email, or walk-in. If you would like more
information about how to assist One Door and the services it provides to the community, contact Michael Tonarely at (417) 225-7499.