More adults who have experienced chronic unsheltered homelessness are finding housing because of a partnership between The Night Ministry and the nonprofit Heartland Alliance.
Ryan Spangler, a Senior Outreach Worker and Case Manager at Heartland Alliance, is what is known as a Skilled Assessor for the Homeless Management Information System (HMIS), which coordinates placement into permanent supportive housing. Spangler joins The Night Ministry's Street Medicine Team weekly as it visits encampments to conduct housing assessments with clients, the first step in matching someone with available units.
"What's involved is mainly getting people's history—how long they have been homeless. There's also a vulnerability assessment to determine what kinds of disabilities or health conditions folks have," Spangler said. "The more vulnerable you are, the more likely you're going to get housing."
The working relationship between Spangler and Street Medicine has resulted in 20 Street Medicine clients moving into permanent housing.
"It's been a godsend," said Street Medicine Case Manager Sylvia Hibbard about Spangler connecting with her team. "Not just because he does the housing assessments, but he's also an amazing resource."
For example, in addition to entering individuals into HMIS, Spangler also puts them on the Chicago Housing Authority list, where they are prioritized for apartments because they are experiencing homelessness.
Once a match is made, Hibbard works with the client to make sure they have, or helps them obtain, the documents such as state ID, birth certificate, and social security card that are required by housing providers. And on move-in day, she is there with some basics such as food and cookware, as well as a list of neighborhood resources.
Newell is one of the individuals served by Street Medicine who did an assessment with Spangler, which led to him moving into his own apartment in October.
"Until I met The Night Ministry, I was on a housing list for three years," he said. "I was living in a tent. I couldn't do another winter. This came at the right time."