Homelessness Prevention Program
Africatown International provides social services to people of African Descent with an emphasis on preventing homelessness. We believe in a community based integrated response to homelessness that involves working in collaboration with service providers that provide mental health services drug counseling job training and employment assistance funding for housing and utilities childcare tutoring English as a Second Language classes GED classes art and tech programs as well as access to healthy food.
We work to prevent homelessness by addressing root causes. People of African descent have experienced and continue to experience tremendous trauma. It is important for anyone working with our communities to understand that any intervention has to take into account the psychological reasons people get stuck in a cycle of poverty and hopelessness. Our “blame the victim” culture has very little empathy for people who have lost their way. When people come to us for assistance we first hear their story and learn more about their experiences and how they cope with the trauma they experience be it witnessing or being a victim of violence losing a loved one to gun violence (which is near epidemic proportions nationally) or other traumatic experiences. We then work with them on a plan for “healing” first and foremost. This involves building a support system around people who understand what it’s like to be a person of African descent in America.
We hold events where people talk about their experiences and hear other people’s stories. This helps people see that their problems are not isolated and that other people are going through similar experiences. An integrated approach to addressing homelessness that involves an individualized intervention plan are critical pieces of our approach. We believe the way out is through healing education employment and immediate access to resources for emergencies such as rent payments help with light bills and food. We ensure that the prevention of homelessness is a priority by having designated staff focused on outreach life skills classes and creating a homelessness prevention strategy for the family or individual.