While sitting in the audience of about 340 people, including several Community Foundation staff, board members and donors, during Fox Cities Housing Coalition’s release of data from its Project RUSH (Research to Understand and Solve Homelessness) yesterday, a few things made an impression.
- The FCHC’s research partner, the Amherst Wilder Foundation in Minneapolis, doubted that this kind of research effort could happen: 125 volunteers interviewing 600 active or near homeless people at 17 sites during 22 days last spring. Not only did it happen, but the Wilder Foundation said they’ve never seen this kind of community collaboration. Kudos to everyone who played a role in this unique effort!
- Data shows a significant mismatch in our community in the availability of affordable housing. According to one of the presenters, sometimes people wait 2-5 years for housing they can afford.
- One of the most dramatic contrasts between survey participants and the general population is the degree and prevalence of mental illness combined with limited access to treatment or support. While about 4% of the U.S. population reports attempting suicide, 23% of survey participants reported attempting suicide.
- For many, homelessness is the latest in a chain of adverse and traumatic experiences that often begins in childhood. These experiences have a significant impact on how people view and interact with the community.
This new research provides the framework from which we, as a community, can engage in new conversations around approaching and solving homelessness and “hidden” or fringe homelessness, together. The full data reports, as well as eight areas of strategic focus for the future, can be found at www.fchc.net.
Tammy Williams is Vice President Marketing & Communications
with the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region – Email: [email protected]
Project RUSH received a lead grant from the Basic Needs Giving Partnership, which is funded by the U.S. Venture Fund for Basic Needs within the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region from the annual U.S. Venture Open golf outing, with matching money from the J. J. Keller Foundation and other contributors. An additional community education grant from the Community Foundation helped to ensure project success.
Listen to part one of Tammy’s Community Conversation about Project RUSH on 91.1 The Avenue with Chris Lashock, President of FHCH/Client Services Coordinator with Homeless Connections, and Joe Mauthe, VP of the FCHC/Executive Director of Housing Partnership of the Fox Cities. Tune in for part two this Saturday morning (Oct. 24) at 9:00.