Transitional Living Center (TLC)'s Homeless Shelter Program: Providing shelter and programming aimed at creating self-sufficiency.

What issue is Transitional Living Center's Homeless Shelter Program designed to address?

Transitional Living Center (TLC) is Western Racine County's only resource solely dedicated to addressing the needs of individuals and families experiencing homelessness. TLC serves as the first responder when a crisis arises. TLC can offer individuals not only shelter but also programming that will help them to become self-sufficient and work towards living independently. The focus of our emergency shelter and transitional living program is to create self-sufficient individuals, and in turn, strong, stable families. We offer programming that can be accessed alone or in combination to better ensure families achieve self-reliance. This comprehensive approach quickly identifies and initiates appropriate services to support each individual's goals by bringing together their strengths within the structured framework of the shelter program. By making temporary shelter available to those in need, individuals have time and energy to make life changes with the goal of becoming a more positive contributor to the community. To reach this goal, individuals can enroll their children in school, increase income, develop basic living skills, address addiction issues, learn more effective coping skills and gain financial independence. These families are placed in permanent housing in the community, secure employment at local businesses and utilize the community's resources. All of which have a positive impact on the community.

What does Transitional Living Center's Homeless Shelter Program do (overarchingly and on a daily basis)?

The shelter offers a safe place for individuals, assesses their needs and puts services into place that break down barriers that are limiting independence. Services include financial mentoring, parenting education, medication management and life skills training. Individuals experiencing homelessness are coming to TLC with a lack of education, limited work experience and no financial stability. During intake, staff assess their educational needs or barriers to employment. Tutoring, GED completion and even enrollment in college classes are offered. The shelter program is also dedicated to helping individuals experiencing homelessness and low-income individuals find and retain employment leading them to self-sufficiency. Staff and volunteers help the individual acquire the necessary skills to reenter the workforce, including basic computer skills, resume writing and interview skills. TLC will transport the participants to and from work when needed. Employment allows the individual a chance to be productive, gain self-confidence, save money and begin to plan for the future.

What is the impact of Transitional Living Center's Homeless Shelter Program?

Studies have shown that homelessness is a financial drain on public services. In 2012, the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) stated that it costs about $40,000 a year for an individual experiencing homelessness to be on the streets. TLC programming fosters self-sufficiency and financial independence, thus reducing the strain on community resources. More importantly, the basic life skills and coping skills learned make TLC clients good neighbors and better citizens.

In 2021, Transitional Living Center had 1,098 nights of stay or, on average, around three individuals per night. The average length of stay for families was 122 nights. TLC received 250 individuals needing referrals for shelter. TLC worked with 131 agencies to provide services to sheltered individuals.

Below is one account of the impact made by Transitional Living Center's Homeless Shelter Program:

TLC was able to help a client get into an AODA treatment center on December 6th. The center was located in Rhinelander, WI. She successfully completed a thirty-day program and returned back to the area. She is now enrolled in an Individualized Outpatient Program with Aurora Health Care. She attends this program four days a week. TLC is continuing to support her and the family members who are allowing her to live with them for the time being. Staff is working with her on a weekly basis to connect her to resources that will continue to facilitate self-sufficiency. She is working on paying off past debt, applying for Social Security, seeing her children on a regular basis and completing court ordered requirements.

What does the future look like for Transitional Living Center's Homeless Shelter Program?

TLC has been a vital resource for women and children experiencing homelessness in our community since 1993. Since that time, TLC has evolved, increasing capacity and expanding services in order to meet the needs of the community. Continued growth is inevitable given the increasing number of individuals experiencing homelessness and the subsequent strain on all shelters in Racine County. TLC envisions a larger facility, shelter specific, that could accommodate women, men and families with additional programming to address the unique needs of all clients served.

Cristen Chaffee is the executive director of Transitional Living Center.