Their stories of ascension out of crisis and homelessness vary widely, but for clients of Longmont’s The Inn Between, finding a supportive place to live is the turning point of every narrative.
Once they were veterans burdened by alcoholism, teens in abusive relationships, single parents with limited job skills. Today they are neighbors and participants in The Inn Between’s inventive equation of stable housing + comprehensive support.
More than 70% of them will move on to become self-sufficient members of the community after just two years. That kind of outcome makes Longmont a shining example of progress in Boulder County’s ongoing challenge to reduce chronic homelessness.
“The Inn Between is quietly and persistently helping people turn their lives around,” says Andrew Muller, a Realtor with RE/MAX of Boulder and a supporter of The Inn.
The 19-year old Inn is an exemplar of community collaboration, representing the collective efforts of 23 Longmont human services agencies, who are together tackling chronic homelessness.
With four apartment buildings to accommodate individuals and families, The Inn’s focus on rapidly getting a roof over people’s heads is in harmony with the national trend toward “Housing First,” an approach that views housing as the foremost stabilizer for people in crisis.
The 2013 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) to Congress stated that the number of homeless people in the U.S. overall fell by five percent between 2010 and 2013. Some believe the Housing First approach is key to that trend.
But The Inn Between goes above and beyond the Housing First approach, providing housing with an innovative mix of hands-on case management, advocacy, education and coaching that leads clients to genuine self sufficiency.
“By providing extensive individual support, we enable people to address the vision of where they want to go next with their lives,” explains Tim Rakow, program director for The Inn.
The model includes a high level of accountability. Participants must be employed. They must be ready, willing and able to commit to lasting change. And they must pay rent.
“The program is entirely voluntary,” explains Mr. Rakow. “Our clients are seeking a better way to live. For them, paying rent in full and on time becomes a point of pride and a milestone on which to build.”
Financial management and landlord relationships are some of the classes available during a client’s time-limited (two-year) stay with the Inn, as are job search, parenting and organizational classes, among others. Many clients complete high school or college degrees during their time at the Inn, with the help of The Inn’s Student Incentive Program. (Read some inspiring client success stories by visiting their website under Our Stories.)
“The Inn bridges the gap between when a person needs instant, emergency help and their long range needs for life skills and education,” explains Mr. Muller, who in the 1980s was the child program director for Boulder’s Emergency Family Assistance Association.
Greater self sufficiency is one reason the Longmont business community has rallied behind the organization.
“The Longmont Chamber of Commerce recognized The Inn as its non-profit of the year for 2011,” says Mr. Rakow. “We are surrounded by a very supportive community.”
The Inn Between is our September Featured Friend. We will be posting about the organization in this space throughout the month.