In July, HAC began a new program working with the Town of Falmouth’s Human Services Department to prevent homelessness for Falmouth residents.
Sometimes asking for help can be the hardest part of homelessness prevention. It took one client six weeks to finally summon up the nerve to meet with HAC Case Manager Deborah McDonnell who manages the Falmouth homelessness prevention program. “Every time he tried to come in, there was some excuse, ‘Oh, the car. Oh, this.’ At the point when he came in, he was so ashamed,” she said. “It must have taken so much courage to start telling his story.”
The father, in his 40s, is raising five children on a $4,000 a month salary; his wife is a stay-at-home mother raising their youngest. “His expenses got out of control with the kids,” McDonnell said. “He didn’t know what to do.”
This is just one of the 19 clients McDonnell is currently working with in Falmouth. Of those, six are homeless and the other 13 are at risk of homelessness.
McDonnell has been assisting these clients thanks to a $20,000 grant from Falmouth that covers two days of case management services for Falmouth’s most vulnerable residents who are struggling for a variety of reasons.
When it comes to homelessness, McDonnell said, the first step is addressing the crisis. The next step is to get clients the services they need to provide short-term stability. And the final step is achieving long-term stability.
McDonnell works internally with HAC staff and externally with a variety of agencies, from the Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance to Falmouth Human Services to the Falmouth Service Center to Duffy Health Center to Vinfen, to get these clients the help they need to turn their lives around.
“When people ask for help, of course there is help,” McDonnell said. “The thing I say to clients after hearing their story is that this is all going to be a series of steps. I don’t have a magic answer to give to you today. This is all going to be steps.”