Story by: Katie Cassaro
Can you imagine being homeless? Would you even know what to do or where to turn?
Many probably wouldn’t know where to start, or how to find food, shelter, etc.
Thankfully Info Line Inc., located in the heart of Akron, has this covered.
Info Line Inc., incorporated as a private nonprofit corporation by the State of Ohio in 1975, has come to the rescue with their phenomenally categorized system and database to help sort things out for the homeless. Their one-of-a-kind system creates stability for those focusing on just surviving.
Info Line’s overall mission is to improve the quality of life for all people who live and work in Northeast Ohio by enhancing their access to and use of our community’s human service delivery system. (www.infolineinc.org)
Development of the Homeless Hotline
When in need of shelter, a person can just simply call the hotline and intake staff will sort everything out for that person or family.
The list of programs that they have to get the homeless back on their feet is incredibly impressive.
“The Homeless Hotline is the Continuum of Care’s centralized point of entry for all homeless assistance programs in our community,” Fred Berry, Housing Services Manager, said.
Individuals and families facing a housing crisis can call 330-615-0577 Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
“We used the nearly 4 years of experience providing central intake for the Home Again program to launch the Homeless Hotline in July of 2013,” Berry shared of their newest launch.
What They Do
Now the homeless just have to make one phone call to take care of their immediate needs, whereas before, there was much more work involved on behalf of not only the homeless, but local agencies.
“Our team will assess their current situation and work with them to establish whether or not shelter is their only option. If it is, we will issue a referral to the appropriate provider if beds are available, otherwise we will add their name to the waitlist,” Berry said.
And, he says “If shelter is not their only option we will work with them to identify other options that can keep them in their current safe housing situation, or look to identify alternatives that will keep them out of homelessness.”
Simplifying the Process
Going this route has been a huge help to not only the homeless, but to local shelters.
“There were challenges (before this came to be). If you wanted shelter you had to call all shelters and get on a waiting list. Now someone has to just call one location and they take all the information and keep it chronologically organized in a waiting list,” Lynn Budnick, Executive Director of ACCESS, said. www.access-shelter.org/
“It’s a terrible situation to be in but this has made it much easier – you don’t have to call 5 locations – just 1,” she continued.
Relief for Providers
If this weren’t available, Berry says “People seeking services would continue to do what they’ve been doing, which is calling every provider on the street card until they get a yes. Providers would continue to be burdened with taking calls from those who are not eligible for their program, managing wait lists and trying to keep beds full.”
“This requires a lot of phone calls to keep in touch with folks and identify whether they need a bed or not. This can be extremely challenging for folks that do not have a reliable phone connection. We take that burden off of them to focus on more direct client service,” he continued.
All-in-all this is a win-win situation for both homeless individuals and local providers.
For more information on this program and others please visit www.infolineinc.org
Stay tuned for next week’s story to find out how and why this all began, a more in-depth look at how it works and the overall improvements it has made!