Love Beyond Homelessness
The Salvation Army is many things: loving, generous, resourceful, reliable. We strive to be passionate in what we do, compassionate to others regardless of who they are or what they’ve been through, brave in going where others won’t, uplifting to those who need a helping hand, and trustworthy to everyone that walks through our doors. We keep our core values close to our heart in our mission of loving beyond and Doing The Most Good.
The Salvation Army operates two housing-focused shelters in Northwest Arkansas. These shelters in Fayetteville and Bentonville are designed to get individuals out of the cycle of homelessness and into safe, secure housing.
The Salvation Army’s housing-focused shelters differ from emergency shelters by providing additional resources to clients while actively working with them to find a home.
“Emergency shelters are designed to provide short-term assistance to individuals facing immediate crisis,” said Dylan Dayton, Fayetteville Intake Specialist. “Typically, emergency shelters are going to have a lot less resources. Our main goal is to get people securely housed, however long it may take, while an emergency shelter is more time-sensitive on how long you can stay.”
As soon as an individual checks into our shelter, they meet with our intake specialist to evaluate their situation, emotional state, vulnerability level, and medical conditions. As an intake specialist, you serve as the starting point-of-contact for someone who may be experiencing their lowest point in life.
Once an individual gets checked in, they have two weeks to set up an appointment with our intake specialist to determine if they want to stay short term or start their journey to housing. If the individual is actively completing tasks and working toward housing, they’re welcome to stay in the shelter for as long as it may take to find a safe home.
Get client medically stable.
Many guests that stay in shelters have mental health issues, disabilities, or medical needs, so getting clients medically stable is one of the most important parts of the intake process.
“Our first step [in an intake] is to get people medically stable,” said Dylan. “The first thing I ask is if there are any medications they’ve been prescribed but haven’t been taking. At that point, we’ll make a mental health appointment to get them medically stable.”
Retrieve or obtain personal documentation.
Homelessness typically involves a lot of loss of personal property. Essential documentation such as birth certificates, IDs, and social security cards are a necessity in not only the housing application process, but daily life. If an individual is in need of one, or all of these, The Salvation Army helps them apply for, and purchase the document if necessary.
Sign up for social services or government programs.
The intake specialist will begin assisting the individual in signing up for any programs that may help them and make their lives easier once they obtain housing, such as food stamps, Medicaid, and SSDI. A lot of guests that come into our shelter either are not aware of resources available to them, or haven't had the help in applying, so they don't know how to apply.
Build individualized housing plan with a housing manager.
Traci, Salvation Army housing manager, will meet with each client personally to build an individualized housing plan, including application processes and budgeting. Many individuals staying in shelters have never filled out a housing or government application, so we encourage clients to fill these out on their own if they’re able and ask for assistance where they’re confused.
Once a client is approved for housing, The Salvation Army is able to pay the security deposit and first three month’s rent of the individual’s stay. A housing manager will check in with them periodically to track progress and ensure rules are being followed at the residence.
Over the course of the next three months, a housing manager will follow up to track budgets and give any advice the client might need.
“It can be hard to manage 50 or more people at a time. As someone who loves helping and wants to help everyone, we wish we could provide more,” said Dylan. “[Loving beyond] is going outside the standard expectations of what makes someone a good person and setting that bar higher.”
In our housing-focused shelters, we want everyone to leave with a sense of hope. Hope that carries them into their next home and makes them feel secure. Breaking the cycle of homelessness takes excruciating work, and can often last many years. Our goal is to speed up that process and provide each person individualized help specific to their needs and create a more stable lifestyle for our neighbors in need.
You don’t know anybody’s story unless you ask them. It doesn’t do anyone any good to assume the worst of someone. Treating people like people is important, and them getting interactions with others makes them feel human. Those are, sadly, feelings that a lot of these people haven't felt for sometimes decades.
- Dylan Dayton, Fayetteville Intake Specialist
Visit Give.SalvationArmyAOK.org/LoveBeyondNWA to donate and assist the most vulnerable in Northwest Arkansas.