FORT WAYNE, Ind. (ADAMS) – The Fort Wayne Rescue Mission recently expanded emergency shelter services and mental health support to women and children.
The expansion was in response to changes to the programs of other social service agencies in the area and the end of the community’s winter emergency plan, which ran from December 22 to March 1, 2022. Rescue Mission began housing women in the Men’s Facility (404 E. Washington Blvd.) in a secure area of the building on March 1, 2022.
“There was a great void within our community that we could not allow to continue,” said Dusty Krause, senior vice president of program operations at The Rescue Mission. “We could not accept the fact that women and children had to fend for themselves at night in this community. It was never a question of whether we were going to help; How was it. Krause continued, “When we started offering these services, we didn’t know what to expect or what kind of need existed in the community. We quickly realized that the need was great, not only for emergency shelter, but also for mental health support. Krause said, “Before taking on the added responsibility, we wanted to ensure the safety of women in a men’s facility. We also wanted to make sure we could offer these people the dignity they deserve and a chance for real change here at The Rescue Mission.
After completing a needs assessment at 404 E Washington Blvd. facility, some women will be relocated to The Rescue Mission’s Charis House location at 431 Fairmount Pl. Charis House, a women’s and children’s ministry of The Rescue Mission, offers temporary residency for up to twenty-four months with additional support services to help stabilize the lives of homeless women and children.
The current Women and Children’s Building at 431 Fairmount has a limited capacity of approximately 75 beds. The surrounding buildings and development of Riverfront Fort Wayne also limit any future expansion of the existing structure. To meet the growing demand for emergency services for women and children, The Rescue Mission says it recently entered into an agreement with YWCA Northeast Indiana to purchase the property at 5920 Decatur Rd.
The rescue mission posted the following:
“Due to other emergency programs available in the community, Charis House’s current location and program was designed to address the longer-term root causes of homelessness,” said Karla Lipsey, senior vice president of program operations at Charis House. “However, the gap in services for women and children experiencing homelessness is widening, so we are doing all we can to meet the growing need.”
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, emergency shelters are often where people in financial difficulty or experiencing homelessness first turn. towards help. Poverty, unemployment and lack of affordable housing are commonly recognized causes of homelessness. Mental and substance abuse disorders, trauma and violence, domestic violence, serious illnesses, divorce, death of a partner, and physical or mental disabilities compound the crisis of homelessness. Transitional or supportive housing and homeless shelters can help stabilize people with mental health issues and substance use disorders who are also homeless.
The rescue mission served nearly three times as many people and families as in previous years. The increase in demand and the most recent expansion of emergency services are creating challenges for the organization.
“The increase in the number of individuals and families seeking our services has created additional strain on our staff and resources,” Krause said. “Even when strained to meet demand, our primary concern has always been for those we serve, both on a day-to-day and programmatic basis.”