MACCH Annual Recognition Event
Beginning in 2015, MACCH annually recognizes our members and partners who are dedicated to preventing and ending homelessness locally. During this prestigious event, MACCH presents awards commemorating the hard work and dedication of staff, agencies, and volunteers striving to prevent and end homelessness and celebrates our collective, continuum-wide successes.
2017 Recognition Event award recipients are as follows:
- Inspiring Practices: Douglas County Housing Authority
- Volunteer of the Year: Ron Hernandez, Moving Veterans Forward
Brandy Gustoff, Omaha Home for Boys
- Community Partner of the Year: Gary Hankins, Community Alliance
- Servant Leadership: Mike Saklar, Siena/Francis House (retired)
2016 Award Recipients:
- Inspiring Practices: MACCH Homeless Review Team (HRT)
- Volunteer of the Year: Dan Brabec, Stephen Center
- Community Partner of the Year: Together, Inc.
- Servant Leadership: Jeannette Winkler, The Salvation Army
2015 Award Recipients:
- Inspiring Practices: SOAR Project, Community Alliance
- Volunteer of the Year: Dave Harvey, Heartland Family Service
- Community Partner of the Year: Project Everlast, Nebraska Children and Families Foundation
- Lifetime Achievement: Del Bomberger, Stephen Center
MACCH and our Partners in the News
(May 23, 2016)
MACCH Partner Agency Stories
Homelessness is beginning with the youth
Poverty, housing insecurity, mental health and substance use disorders are only some ways youth in the United States are finding themselves homeless. Factoring in child welfare and complications with the juvenile justice systems creates an even larger platform of significant trauma, being vulnerable and becoming victims of sexual trafficking.
Nearly 41,000 unaccompanied youth were counted as homeless in 2017, according to the National Alliance to End Homelessness. The ages of youth among that 41,000 fluctuate between 18 and 24, about five thousand of that are under the age of 18. These young adults can experience episodes of homelessness that last up to a week or longer over the course of a year. Youth facing the struggle of homelessness experience a wide range of physical, mental, emotional and behavioral issues, but can be turned around with basic life needs. If these young adults are able to access basic or stable housing, connections to caring and supportive adults, access to education, workforce development or long-term employment, they are able to heal and go on to live healthy, full lives, according to the National Network for Youth. One of our partners in Omaha, Youth Emergency Services, (YES) offers a wide variety of services to youth in crisis. Their program Street Outreach, involves YES workers hitting the streets of Omaha carrying backpacks filled with basic needs and supplies. Workers also monitor areas known for having at-risk youth. These youths are provided with immediate information, services and are invited to the YES Outreach Center for hot meals, health care and hygienic care.
Providing care and support to programs like YES is extremely important to monitoring and decreasing the amount of homeless youths in the Omaha area. Homelessness can start at any age, but is primarily important to monitor when young. Youths provided with the right information and needs are able to rise up against homelessness and live fuller lives.
MACCH implements federally mandated Coordinated Entry System - July 2018
Navigating through the maze of resources and programs has long proved a challenging process for people experiencing homelessness. The federal government issued a mandate that required all Continuums of Care to establish coordinated entry systems by January 2018 that streamline the process of finding resources and housing solutions.
Coordinated entry programs seek to identify those who are at risk or are experiencing homelessness, complete assessments of each case and provide individualized referrals for resources. The standardized system also allows Continuums of Care to prioritize people most in need of assistance.
Metro Area Continuum of Care for the Homeless (MACCH) has since implemented coordinated entry system that assists Douglas and Sarpy counties in Nebraska and Pottawattamie county in Iowa. Six publicly advertised access points are located throughout the Omaha metro area, which serve as starting points of the coordinated entry system for homeless individuals and families seeking assistance.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) outlines qualities of effective Coordinated Entry. Among them include:
• Ensure all people have fair and equal access to the coordinated entry process in an inclusive manner.
• Do not screen out people for assistance because of perceived barriers such as lack of employment or income, drug or alcohol use or a criminal record.
• Ensure the coordinated entry process does not delay access to emergency services such as shelter.
• Ensure all coordinated entry locations and methods offer the same assessment approach and referrals using uniform decision making processes.
• Link the coordinated entry process to street outreach efforts so that people sleeping on the streets are prioritized for assistance in the same manner as any other person assessed through the coordinated entry process.
• Put safety protocols in place to ensure safety of all individuals seeking assistance.
Unsheltered homeless people face challenges during summer - June 2018
Protection for unsheltered homeless people is not just a vital concern during the freezing winter months. Those who face the challenge of homelessness need safe shelter during the hot and humid months.
While statistics show a slight decline of the homeless population, cities like
Omaha and across the nation must still better serve those who remain unsheltered.
On any given night, more than 175,000 people are unsheltered, sleeping outside or in places not meant for human habitation. This leaves many at risk for possible dehydration, severe sunburns or even heat stroke, according to the National Alliance to End Homelessness.
On average, nearly 554,000 people in the U.S. experience homelessness on a given night, according to the most recent National Point-in-Time estimate in January 2017. Each one of these individuals is at high risk for many dangerous health issues, even including death.
In addition to the dehydration, most homeless people have no choice but to be on their feet all day, this can lead to severe athlete’s foot, pitted keratolysis, (a painful skin condition) and ingrown toe nails.
Some of the homeless might try to find shade from the sun in a wooded park or forest area. Finding shade will help prevent against possible dehydration or heat stroke but insects also a major threat to the homeless. An infestation of insects in park areas such as mosquitos and ticks can transfer infections and diseases.
Without the essentials of shelter and water, all homeless people remain venerable during the hot summer months.
How you can help the homeless in summer
*Information taken from the Thrive DC website at infothrivedc.org
•Collect summer necessities such as travel-size sunscreen, water bottles
and Gold Bond powder and donate them to a shelter.
•Donate new socks, hats and visors. •Pass out water bottles to people you see on the street. •Help set up cooling stations. •Hold a donation drive.
Courtney E. Smith
The arts empower and support the homeless - April 2018
As part of a small group communication class project, Thomas Martinez, junior at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, was tasked with raising funds for an organization in the Omaha area.
Martinez knew he wanted to find a unique way to give back to the homeless community. He found inspiration from his hometown, Los Angeles, California, where homelessness is extremely prevalent.
Each year since 2010, the Los Angeles Poverty Department has hosted the Skid Row Arts Festival. The event was created for the homeless community living in Skid Row, an impoverished area in downtown Los Angeles, to share artwork, music and spoken word.
Martinez decided hosting an open mic on UNO’s campus would be a great way to do something similar with the arts and support the homeless community at the same time.
The open mic took place at UNO on Friday, April 13, and was open for anyone to share poetry, music or any kind of spoken word. The only entrance fee was a donation of food, clothing or hygiene products for the Siena Francis House.
“When you’re homeless, you’re in need of emotional support, physical support and financial support,” Martinez said. “As a student, you’re also in need. Sometimes we don’t know it though. I feel like we can incorporate both needs with this event.”
During the open mic, several students took turns sharing poetry and stories that were very personal. Martinez emphasized that the open mic was an opportunity to help the homeless, but it was also an influential outlet for students to share their voices.
“I think it’s incredibly inspiring that an event set up by a student can do something actively to benefit others without getting anything in return,” said Gordon Ip, one of Martinez’s classmates.
The open mic raised several donations for the Siena Francis House. Martinez said he hopes to host another open mic for the Siena Francis next semester and will continue to encourage the arts in as many outlets as possible.
UNO MavPR Account Associate
Combating the stereotype of being homeless - November 2017
Veterans who fought for our country and mothers fending for their children – these are our homeless neighbors.
Homelessness is a problem bigger than many of us may think. On any given night, more than 600,000 Americans experience homelessness, according to Green Doors, a Texas corporation that works to prevent homelessness.
Despite the stereotype, the majority of our homeless population consists of families, victims of domestic abuse and veterans.
Compared to other industrial nations, the U.S. has the highest number of homeless women and children. In fact, families comprise about 35 percent of the total homeless community and more than half include children younger than 18, according to The Department of Housing and Urban Development. Growing up homeless, children have a higher risk of long-term effects on behavior, employability, relationships and brain development.
Trapped between violence and homelessness with nowhere else to turn, more than 50 percent of women report domestic abuse as the immediate cause of their homelessness, according to The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Housing instability and a lack of safe and affordable housing often leads to women staying in abusive relationships to avoid being homeless, only to find themselves isolated from family and friends with little to no money of their own.
Not only are women and children vulnerable to the nightmare of being without a home, men and women who have defended our country enter another battlefield on the unsheltered streets. Roughly 12 percent of homeless Americans are veterans who “served in World War II, the Korean War, Cold War, Vietnam War, Grenada, Panama, Lebanon, Persian Gulf War, Afghanistan and Iraq (OEF/OIF), and the military’s anti-drug cultivation efforts in South America,” according to Green Doors.
To add to the already complex set of factors influencing all homelessness, displaced veterans are at higher risk of the lingering effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and substance abuse, which intensifies their lack of family and social support networks. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers assistance to eligible veterans in addressing these issues; however, based on military discharge status, not all homeless veterans qualify.
In the Omaha metro alone, more than 1,500 people face the horrors of homelessness each year. Since 2006, the Metro Area Continuum of Care for the Homeless (MACCH) has led a community-wide network of partners, including governmental representatives, corporate members and individual advocates, that work to prevent and end homelessness in Douglas, Sarpy and Pottawattamie Counties.
MACCH’s main objective is to “unite the efforts of shelter, housing, supportive services, and faith-based organizations that serve homeless and near-homeless individuals,” per the MACCH website. Over the course of more than a decade, MACCH has raised nearly $40 million in HUD Continuum of Care funding on behalf of nearly 20 local homeless assistance projects.
Consider what it might feel like to not know when your next meal may be and help MACCH and its partners improve the quality of life for all of our homeless neighbors. Visit endhomelessnesstoday.org for more information on how you can make a difference in the lives of others.
UNO MavPR Account Associate
Raising awareness about homelessness
Members of the Phi Beta Sigma fraternity at the University of Nebraska at Omaha recently braved the cold and camped out in cardboard boxes near 72nd and Dodge Street in the Petco parking lot to raise awareness for homelessness.
As part of the annual Sleep Out for the Homeless campaign, the group collected clothes, nonperishable items and money from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. Donations were given to the Open Door Mission.
This was the local chapter’s 13th year participating. Taylor Clinch, the Open Door Mission’s Rebuilding Lives Center director, said recipients at the Open Door Mission are in need of hats, scarves, gloves and winter coats during this time. Toilet paper, deodorant, toothpaste and other personal hygiene items are also welcome throughout the year. The fraternity’s goal this year was to raise $500 in cash, 500 cans of food, nonperishable items and 500 articles of clothing, according to Clinch.
Whether holding up signs and camping out or speaking out about homelessness, by doing so it helps bring awareness about the epidemic of both national and local homelessness—mirroring how the Metro Area Continuum of Care for the Homeless (MACCH) advocates in the greater Omaha and Council Bluffs metropolitan area. The organization aims to improve the quality of life for all homeless and near homeless individuals and families.
In Omaha, approximately 2,000 people—men, women, children and families—are homeless every night, according to the Open Door Mission.
UNO MavPR Account Associate
Omaha Gives! supports the Omaha homeless community
Every night, nearly 1,500 people in Omaha sleep either on the streets or in emergency shelters. Our mission works closely with partner agencies to end homelessness once and for all – and we need your help.
The Omaha Community Foundation’s annual Omaha Gives! online fundraising platform on Wednesday, May 24, provides a 24-hour opportunity to donate in support of MACCH.
This giving day inspires our community to come together to support the work of public 501(c)(3) nonprofits like MACCH and its partners in the metro area. The minimum donation is $10 and there is no maximum. Prizes and challenge funds amplify charitable donations to make each dollar go further. Find out more here.
The dedicated work of MACCH’s various task force initiatives offer support to the homeless community and provides them with information about MACCH’s partner agencies and helpful resources.
With your donation, you can help us find more permanent housing for these individuals. Everyone deserves as safe place to call home.
We thank you for your generous donation.
Charles Coley, Executive Director
MACCH works to end veteran homelessness
Veteran homelessness is an issue that plagues our Omaha community. Ten percent of the homeless individuals in the metro area are veterans. Although the numbers have decreased in recent years, an estimated 40,000 homeless veterans slept on the streets in the United States every single night in January of 2016. Moreover, it is estimated that at least 140 veterans are homeless on any given night in our local community.
To break this cycle of veteran homelessness, the Metro Area Continuum of Care for the Homeless understands that a focused plan is necessary. No veterans should be living on the streets after they have returned home from serving their country on active duty.
That’s why MACCH has made veterans a priority in its core initiative, Opening Doors: MACCH 10-Year Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness. MACCH outlines exactly how it is going to end veteran homelessness by December of 2017 in three fundamental steps:
• End homelessness among all veterans eligible for Veteran Affairs by December of 2016.
• Prioritize all veterans for housing by December of 2017.
• Ensure all veterans are never homeless for longer than 90 days at any given time by December of 2017.
While the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has recently increased funding for veteran homelessness, there is still an unmet need in our local community, especially for those veterans who do not meet VA medical eligibility. In order to truly end veteran homelessness, more resources must be dedicated to our nation’s heroes.
MACCH continues to explore additional opportunities as they strive to achieve end veteran homelessness locally. As a community, we can give veterans the home they deserve. Find out more about Opening Doors: MACCH’s 10-Year Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness here.
UNO MavPR Account Executive
There's No Place Like Home for First Time Homeowners - August 2015
Owning a home is the foundation on which families can build a legacy. For a lot of people, becoming a homeowner means independence and increased self-esteem.
However, many potential homeowners are unsure how to get started or if they are financially ready for that next step. That’s where Family Housing Advisory Services lends a helping hand.
Family Housing Advisory Services is a non-profit organization founded in 1968 to help first time homeowners learn steps it takes to own your own home. Today the agency serves more than 730 people and operates from its main offices in North Omaha, South Omaha, Council Bluffs, Iowa and Chadron.
Offering classes through six different programs, Family Housing Advisory Services teaches clients about establishing and maintaining good credit, working with realtors and learning aspects of financing. For example, the financial fitness education workshop gives clients monthly individual budget counseling and financial goal planning.
During this course, clients are educated on the understanding and implementing of good money management. From this class they have been able to repair 619 of their clients’ credit and within the last year alone 87 clients have become homeowners after participation in the workshops.
Donna McFadden, director of the Homeownership Program, says it is one of the six programs geared toward building a strong understanding of what it means to be a homeowner.
McFadden has worked for the Family Housing Advisory Services for 19 years and says she loves her job.
“I love giving back to the community.” “Growing up I knew the importance of having a home and what a foundation it is for the families and the children growing up within those homes.” McFadden says. “I want to help first-time owners not only get a home but keep it for their families--for them to have something to build upon, growth is what matters to me.”
A University of Nebraska at Omaha graduate in criminal justice, McFadden says her courses in social work helped form her decision to help those in need.
“A lot of the people that come into my office are first-generation homeowners and single mothers, so we want to prepare them for the real world and what to expect,” McFadden says. “Buying a home is a lengthy process,”
Family Housing Advisory Services provides monthly classes that help throughout every stage that leads up to and includes home buying. Those classes include Pre-Purchase Education, Financial Fitness, Omaha Earned Income Tax Credit and Tenant Services.
“We have classes throughout the year that range from mornings to later in the evening. We want to accommodate everyone,” McFadden says. “We understand that people are out in our community making a living and doing the best they can right now, so we want to show them that we understand. Building them up so they can purchase their own home will be a reward well worth all their efforts.”
UNO MavPR Team Member
Zero:2016 and Ending Veteran Homelessness
Our community is one of 75 nationally participating in the Zero:2016 campaign, which is a "movement of communities working to end veteran homelessness by the close of 2015 and end chronic homelessness one year later...this national effort supports participants in optimizing local resources, tracking progress against monthly housing goals, and accelerating the spread of proven strategies."
Preventing and ending veteran homelessness will only happen through collaboration. In that spirit, local housing and homeless nonprofit service providers are now working to prioritize veteran housing placement. Ending veteran and chronic homelessness IS possible.
Executive Director, MACCH
Street outreach is a process of initial and ongoing engagement and interaction with persons who are literally homeless. We go on outreach all year long, and we go anyplace homeless individuals are living outdoors (such as streets, alleys, bridges, cars, or camps). We find and engage with them to help them obtain services such as healthcare, mainstream benefits, and housing (just to name a few). The MACCH street outreach team works together with many agencies to provide the most services to clients. Street outreach is perfect for reaching homeless people who otherwise would be lost to long term care because outreach teams GO TO those in need. We meet them where they are.
Street outreach workers need to love what they do!! Street outreach workers are:
People Centered and Trauma Informed
Independent AND strong team players
Street outreach teams also help link clients up with the services they need, but are otherwise unable to access on their own. We are able to provide referrals to various local agencies with whom we collaborate. We work with the Veteran’s Administration (VA), Charles Drew Medical Services, Heartland Family Service, Nebraska AIDS Project (NAP), Youth Emergency Services (YES), Community Alliance, Mohm’s Place, Integrated Health, Salvation Army Emergency Community Support, and the Council Bluffs Police Department.
The overall impact MACCH Street Outreach has had on our community is huge; it is a vital aspect of our community’s Continuum of services. Research shows that outreach initiatives such as ours will, in time:
Decrease number of homeless days
Improve housing status
Decrease psychiatric hospitalizations
Reduce drug use
Improve health and mental health
The team in 2014 served and engaged with over 122 clients and provided over 1600 services (and we know we will have higher numbers this year as we are having more of a presence in the community)
The best part of street outreach--what I love the most--is knowing our work has impacted many people in our community by helping them obtain safe housing, healthcare, and hope for their future. There is no other better feeling than knowing are we profoundly changing lives on a daily basis.
Heartland Family Service
Heartland Family Service