VALPARAISO | More than 360 people are homeless in Porter County, and 148 of them are children.
Caroline Shook, chief executive officer of Housing Opportunities, shared that sobering news Monday with Valparaiso Rotary Club members at Strongbow Inn.
Shook was joined by Barb Young, president of the Porter County Community Foundation, who outlined GIVE Day, a one-day fundraising event on Nov. 8 to help end homelessness in Porter County.
“Homelessness is a very serious issue in our community,” Young said.
Shook presented a progress report on No Place Like Home, a 10-year plan to end homelessness that includes strategies for refining the county's homeless service delivery system to prevent homelessness and rapidly re-house people.
In the past 10 months, the Coalition for Affordable Housing has expanded from 26 to 62 members, Shook said.
Software is now available at no cost for any social service agency to track client information and use of services, she said.
Other achievements include a centralized questionnaire used by several agencies to ensure all clients are asked the same questions when entering the homeless system.
There also has been more sharing of resources to reduce duplication of services. And WorkOne now has employment staff on hand at the Housing Opportunities office, Shook said.
The goal is for all residents to have access to a safe, affordable home, as well as resources and support services. The success of the plan depends on everyone in the community, Shook said.
“We really need to have everybody involved and at the table,” she said.
To view the complete 10-year plan to end homelessness in Porter County, visit housing-opportunities.com, portercountyfoundation.org, porterstarke.org or unitedwaypc.org.