It’s one thing to provide a homeless person a place to live. It’s another to keep them in their new home.
That’s why Ability Housing and the Sulzbacher Center have forged a partnership to combine the strengths of each organization to maximize positive outcomes for people who have experienced chronic homelessness.
Sulzbacher Center is now the primary case management service provider for people who have found homes through Ability Housing and need help adjusting to their new, more stable life.
Medical, mental health and employment issues can create situations for people who have been homeless for an extended period that can lead to them returning to the street.
“We can’t predict who is going to need help,” said Shannon Nazworth, Ability Housing executive director. “Some people do well on their own, some people don’t.”
Ability Housing owns four apartment communities and 29 single-family homes in Northeast Florida, providing 298 affordable residences. The nonprofit also provides supportive housing for an additional 65 households through Homeless Assistance Grants from the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The federal program is expected to increase to about 140 households in 2017.
Sulzbacher Center has been providing case management services to homeless people in Jacksonville for 21 years.
For the past 15 years, the nonprofit has been managing through HUD programs 120 units of scattered-site housing for formerly homeless people and providing case management for the residents.
Since it was founded, Sulzbacher Center has provided case management and other support to more than 57,000 people.
“We have the comprehensive services they need — medical, dental and behavioral health,” said Sulzbacher President and CEO Cindy Funkhouser.
The center provides those services at its facility Downtown at 611 E. Adams St. and at its clinic at 850 Sixth Ave. S. in Jacksonville Beach.
Funkhouser said partnering with Ability Housing will help both organizations focus on what each does best and should allow both to expand their work.
“They don’t need to figure out how to provide case management and we don’t need to get into developing affordable housing,” she said.
“Organizations need to determine their core competencies. That’s the way nonprofits are going to succeed,” Funkhouser said.
Nazworth agrees the partnership will help each organization.
“We can build on our success with a solid partner. This makes us know we can grow,” she said.
“The bottom line for both of us is we’ll be able to help more people get out of homelessness and by working together, we can do that faster than we could have before,” said Funkhouser.