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Renaissance Expands Street Outreach (cont'd from Newsletter)

Clinical approach sets Renaissance apart. Renaissance is one of a handful of agencies in Chicago that has both housing and clinical (behavioral) health expertise. This means that our Street Outreach Team is comprised of people who are behavioral health professionals and are equipped to understand the needs of people living in shelters or on the streets. In turn, this allows the Team to build strong trusting relationships with those it encounters, which is key to getting people to choose to come off the streets and into housing.

Partnering with The Renaissance Living Room and other community resources. Renaissance’s expanded Street Outreach work will focus on Chicago’s westside, an area underserved by current street outreach efforts by other agencies in the city. Because a high percentage of people living on the streets or in shelters have mental health issues, Renaissance’s Street Outreach Team will have the chance to connect people it engages with to Renaissance’s Living Room, our drop-in mental health center in Chicago’s Austin Community. Expanding the agency’s service footprint of the westside is part of the agency's long-term strategic vision.

Expedited Housing Initiative & the Need for “Bridge” Housing. Moving people off the streets and into housing is, unfortunately, more complex than it sounds. We are always grateful when someone we are engaging with agrees to come off the streets, but their journey doesn’t end there. There is, unfortunately, a too-long waiting process for them to actually get into housing. This happens for a number of reasons. The best way to stop this, and to move people into housing almost (if not) immediately, is to create “bridge” housing. Bridge housing is temporary housing used to shelter people while they await placement into a Rapid Re-Housing or Permanent Supportive Housing program with a homeless services agency. Renaissance, through its Expedited Housing Initiative program operates a Rapid Re-Housing program that doubles as bridge housing. However, hundreds and hundreds more bridge units are needed in this city if we are going to be able to move people from the streets and into housing immediately.

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