Homeless families in the Central Virginia area have few places to turn for emergency shelter. The Hand-Up Lodge (HUL) is unique in its approach serving men, women, and children, when most other local shelters serve only men or only women and children. The Hand-Up Lodge Homeless Emergency Shelter provides short-term housing that provides a place for individuals and families to stay, eat and sleep. The Lynchburg Community Action Group’s, Commerce Street facility is the main entry for homeless individuals in need of temporary housing. Lyn-CAG is a service-enriched non-profit agency, which offers a multitude of programs that provides many homeless individuals with assistance.
The Hand-Up Lodge utilizes the services of many community agencies to assist clients in dealing with barriers such as lack of transportation, chronic unemployment, mental health issues,
medical concerns, and housing affordability. Families seeking shelter receive additional support for their children including healthcare, childcare, and ongoing education.
This 28-bed facility works with other area shelters. As soon as application approval is received, clients begin the process of recovery. First clients receive one-on-one crisis counseling. Second, the client devises an “action plan” – a detailed activity guide for the months ahead, with self-sufficiency as the main goal. This “action plan” helps the client to focus on the steps necessary to securing employment and permanent housing. Guests’ progress is monitored and they are encouraged to apply for The Housing Choice Voucher Program (formerly Section 8, the agency’s Homeless Intervention Program (HIP) or Homelessness Prevention and Rapid-Re-housing Program (HPRP) or other subsidized housing programs.
Emergency Shelter Workers make contact with homeless individuals and families, serve as a resource for them, and make referrals to other systems. Working at all hours of the day, shelter workers provide appropriate support for the needy homeless applicant. Shelter workers assist individuals and families in familiarizing themselves with shelter settings and regulations. Typically, applicants go through a double process of being interviewed (intake), assessed for their basic needs, and overall goal. Shelter workers help guests to settle into the shelter environment, and oversee the day-to-day operations of the shelter, including enforcing shelter rules. Staff duties also include case management, coordination with other human service agencies who provide services and make referrals to service.
The Hand-Up Lodge has established collaborations with outside agencies that can assist families with children. Homelessness and inadequate housing often negatively affect children and families; therefore, direct referrals to Child Protective Services (CPS) has been highly effective. Guests are required to register with CPS receives structured and beneficial guidance in parenting, nutrition, safety, employment and personal care of self. Child Protective Services provide the emergency shelter with feedback and suggestions regarding referrals. This is a unique and successful partnering.
The HUL prides itself in being able to provide a safe environment for families. The recently installed security system, allows visual monitoring of inside and outside areas of the HUL. Security lighting in the most vulnerable outside areas surrounding the lodge gives guest s a feeling of security when parking their cars or entering the lodge. Guests with children are more at ease while living at the shelter, knowing that there is surveillance 24 hours a day. Our major focus is to keep the children safe.
Upon entry, each guest is given a personal care kit. This kit provides a guest with the necessary personal hygiene items to promote cleanliness. The lodge also provides a laundry facility for washing and drying of their clothes. The HUL does not prepare food for individuals, but we will furnish individuals and families with food as needed. In the women and children’s area, the HUL provides a playroom for younger children, and books, stuffed animals and puzzles for older children. A television will be added to this room for the children.