Tbnewswatch Local News
2014-04-29 at NOON

SOS program ends

Shelter House executive director Patty Hajdu
Jamie Smith, tbnewswatch.com
Shelter House executive director Patty Hajdu
By Jamie Smith, tbnewswatch.com

The funding is gone but the need continues as a pilot project that helped more than 1,000 people survive this winter comes to an end.

Shelter House launched the four-month SOS cold weather program in December as a way to help the city's most vulnerable survive what turned out to be an unforgiving winter season.

For 12 hours every day the two-person mobile service responded to non-violent calls and tried to transfer those people to places like Shelter House, Salvation Army or detox if needed.

Shelter House executive director Patty Hajdu said once businesses, people and emergency services knew the program was available, it became clear that is was about more than just cold weather.

"We were blown away by the need out there," she said.

As a pilot program, it was only funded until April 27. While Shelter House can contribute, it can't afford the $200,000 a year needed to make it permanent even though the need is there and growing all the time. Hajdu's hoping that the city and other emergency services can help pick up the bill.

"How can we do this collaboratively as a community," she said.

Businesses and the hospital were the most frequent callers to the program. Hadju said out of the 1,000 people helped, less than 50 calls needed the help of service other than the program.

"They really were able to navigate a lot of those situations independently," she said.

A report will be brought to city council at the end of May and given to other organizations to see if collaborative funding is possible.

In the meantime, Hajdu said she unfortunately expects to see a spike in demand for emergency services now that the program is no longer available.

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