Sunday, February 19, 2006

The Ups and Downs of a Program

BTG Flies High and Comes Back Down to Earth

The Bridging the Gap program had a transforming year. They began the year with a large number of staff with the addition of the AmeriCorps National Service program, and everything was going swimmingly. This was great to have the added help, but this federal program was a nightmare from the administrative side. It was impossible to get reimbursement, and they demanded an entirely new accounting system to serve strictly their program. There was so much time spent on admin. that we almost forgot the mission of ending homelessness for individuals and families. We had plenty of support help, and this allowed us to house around 100 individuals or families despite the obstacles.

The biggest accomplishment of 2005 was the creation of The affordable housing database provides a free service to the thousands of people in need of help with housing that we do not have the personnel to deal with. Nearly a thousand people a day use the website thanks to the collaboration put together by First Call for Help/211 and BTG along with a great group of social service programs. Legal Aid, the Cleveland Tenants Organization, CMHA, May Dugan Center, and Maximum Independent Living are but a few of the organizations participating in setting up this important local resource. Leigh Ann Ahmad, our former program director, found, a national non-profit, that set up the database for a very reasonable price.

The program was forced to move into the NEOCH offices late in the year, because their building was closing down. Free rent can't last forever. They also lost their program director (not that way, she moved), and we turned down the opportunity to continue to operate the National Service program. This was a rough decision, but it was best for the organization. The group reorganized and rebounded. They have set goals for the new year and are working on putting together staff and volunteers to house as many people as possible.

Posts by Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless staff and Board.

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