Dignity Harbor in St. Louis

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I am writing this on the drive back from a week of kayaking on Lake Superior at the Apostle Islands National Seashore. Actually, I am riding in the truck right now and not driving. I spent a week kayaking from island to island and camping.

I was able to get away from the day-to-day issues and problems, and focus on having a good time and reenergizing myself. I am really refreshed and ready to get back to work.

While away, I thought about the fact that many of the people I work with who are homeless never get a vacation. They must focus everyday on immediate, basic needs like shelter and food, and how to meet those needs. I feel so blessed and lucky to have had the ability to get away.

Paraquad has signed up to be a participant in a pilot program to implement a new system for theĀ City of St. Louis Continuum of Care for Ending Homelessness (CoC) for people who are homeless. We are piloting the Vulnerability Index-Service Prioritization Decision Assistance Tool (VI-SPDAT), which is being used to develop a new methodology of addressing homelessness in St. Louis.

The goal is to develop a system that will most effectively and efficiently meet the needs of the St. Louis’s homeless residents. We currently are trying to meet their needs in shelters and on the street. The hope is that we can address mental health, physical, substance abuse and social needs in those environments.

It’s very expensive and inefficient to address those needs in the city’s courts and jail. The CoC’s hope is that the data captured by VI-SPDAT will help to develop a system of housing or of preventing homelessness in the first place so that the needs of people who are homeless can be addressed in a less costly, more effective way.

Dave Haessig is a Transition Specialist at Paraquad. He can be reached at dhaessig@paraquad.org.

Photo credit: LaTease Rikard

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