As 2017 begins, here at Friendship Shelter we’re reviewing the past year and turning our focus to what’s next. Like an individual setting New Year’s resolutions, we’re looking at whether we accomplished our goals in 2016 and focusing on our goals for 2017. All of our goals at Friendship Shelter are focused on ending homelessness in southern Orange County, one person at a time.
2016 was our most successful year yet in accomplishing that over-reaching goal. During the year, we opened our renovated Henderson House apartments and welcomed the 14 transitional-aged youth who now call this facility “home.” We continued to grow our scattered site permanent supportive housing program, now housing 44 chronically homeless individuals who were previously on the streets of our communities. We set an audacious goal of making nearly $300,000 in facility improvements, and with the help of individual donors and the generosity of Mission Hospital, we raised the money to complete those tasks.
Friendship Shelter is experiencing a period of exceptional growth. Our annual count of individuals served has grown from just over 500 in 2014 to nearly 700 last year. Our housing programs have tripled in size during the same period. And, our budget has nearly doubled.
Our goals for 2017 are centered on one thing: ending homelessness for the most vulnerable people in our community. Our program staff have set a goal of housing 100 people in 2017. That would be a 25% increase over the record-breaking year we had last year. If it were solely up to our staff, I’d have no doubt that we can achieve that goal. But to do so, we’ll need support from our community. Public funds only go so far in solving this problem – in the competitive, costly rental environment of southern Orange County, we need private support to make up the difference in rental costs. We need help finding landlords willing to rent to us and join with us in welcoming homeless people to permanent homes. And, we need the public will to continue to break down barriers to housing, especially in terms of de-stigmatizing issues like mental illness and addiction.
Our goals depend on you. We couldn’t have achieved last year’s successes without you and we couldn’t begin to dream about 2017 without you. Thank you for your past support – and for continuing to trust Friendship Shelter. Here’s to 100 more permanent homes in 2017!