This progress update comes from one of our 2021 Grant Recipients, HOPE Shelters and their Homeless Peer Advocate program.
The new Peer Advocate position is for individuals with lived homeless experience to use their expertise to support and guide both current guests of the shelter and those in need in the community. This position works to ensure that individuals seeking shelter feel welcome and understand expectations. The Peer Advocates also help individuals evaluate which support services might be helpful, for example medical, mental health or substance use services.
As of recently, HOPE has hired three peer advocates who have gone through their initial training. Two have been trained more extensively while being supervised by both shelter managers and case managers while earning their qualification in CPR/AED and administering Narcan.
There are many responsibilities of the Peer Advocates in helping their guests and clients gain access to crucial appointments and information needed to help them through this transition. Through this program, peer advocates have welcomed guests, assisted clients in getting settled and answered telephone calls to guide new guests into the shelters. The peer advocates are a support system for shelter guests and provide a listening ear when they get frustrated with the various processes they endure to find permanent housing. They have also accompanied guests for medical and Secretary of State appointments and have given advice on where to find housing and how to utilize public transportation. The peer advocates have also reached out to those clients who have transitioned into permanent housing to make sure they are adjusting well and offer any advice.
The Homeless Peer Advocate program has inspired guests to begin on the path to becoming regular staff members of HOPE or seek employment in the social service industry. The beneficiaries of this program desire to give back for the help they have received and use their success stories to help others.
Impact100 Oakland County is glad to hear that the Homeless Peer Advocate program is successful and growing while actively looking to hire more Peer Advocates to help people in the Oakland County community. We are looking forward to seeing how great of an impact HOPE creates!