Community Action Helps People Help Themselves

Robert was an unemployed 27year-old high school dropout who was badly addicted to heroin. His addiction had progressed to a point where his family felt they had to break all connections with him.

Even after losing his family and friends, Robert continued on his downward spiral, eventually hitting rock bottom when he woke up in the detox center at his local hospital with no recollection of the overdose he suffered just days earlier.

Robert was released to the City Rescue Mission homeless shelter with nothing to his name but a pair of hospital scrubs given to him upon his release. The shelter staff referred him to Care Network for addiction recovery services and to the Jefferson County Community Action Council (CAC) for housing services.

The Housing Department interviewed Robert and determined he was eligible to participate in the Shelter Plus Care (SPC) rental assistance program, a program for homeless people with a disability, addiction, mental illness or AIDS that provides rental assistance and intensive support services to aid them in becoming self-sufficient. Case workers placed him in a home and provided him with monthly rental assistance. This allowed him to concentrate heavily on his recovery efforts with Jefferson Behavioral Health, and maintain his abstinence from drug use. It also allowed Robert to reevaluate his personal goals.

Within the first year on the SPC program, Robert obtained his GED and continuously utilized the One Stop employment center at the CAC to try and find employment. Through staff-assisted referrals, Robert completed admissions testing and financial aid requirements needed to begin taking classes to earn his associates degree at Jefferson Community College (JCC). While enrolled at JCC, he maintained a 4.0 grade point average. After completing his degree at JCC, Robert transferred to Franciscan University and began work on his bachelor’s degree, majoring in Psychology. Robert was awarded an academic scholarship that will allow him to study in Europe for the fall 2014 semester.

The Shelter Plus Care program allowed Robert to continue his schooling and strengthen his chances of achieving self-sufficiency. Without the support and assistance from Jefferson County CAC, it is likely that Robert would still be homeless and fighting his battle with substance abuse.

For more information about Community Action programs in your area, visit Note, not all Community Action Agencies offer these programs.