Our Programs

Overview

Program Department is comprised of a variety of individual services that meet the needs of Schenectady City and County’s homeless and working poor population.

Services Offered:

  • A Safe Haven offering fellowship and community
  • Daily community meal
  • Showers and laundry
  • Mailboxes and storage lockers
  • Phone/fax/copier/computer
  • Clothing-gently used; new under garments; gently used sheets & towels
  • Food Pantry: 834 State Street and Yates Village
  • Hygiene kits
  • Household goods
  • Emergency Services
  • Representative Payee Financial Management Program
  • Women’s Support Group
  • Men’s Supports Group
  • Information and referral services

View Program Schedule (pdf)

Case Management and Social Work Services

Initial Intake and Assessment

Triage and assessment of immediate needs, eligibility for entitlement programs, and the need for immediate referrals to other agencies.

Financial Case Management

Managing the SSI/SSD benefits for disabled and identified guests. A budget is established with each person in our Rep Payee Program ensuring rent, utilities, food, medical care, and other essential needs are met and paid for before the guest receives a personal spending allowance.

Shelter/Housing

The Case Management team provides emergency services to assist homeless individuals with emergency shelter placement. Guests can continue to work with Case Management to obtain steady income and permanent housing (subsidized or programmatic housing). Case Managers work with reputable landlords, applying for Section 8 Housing, Municipal Housing, or other housing programs.

The Representative Payee Program

This program is essential in helping to prevent individuals from becoming homeless, assist individuals in finding permanent housing, and aiding in financial stability. Many individuals who do not participate in this program find themselves being taken advantage of by others and run the risk of losing their minimal income to drugs/alcohol and other addictions, due to their inability to handle and manage their monthly Social Security payment. The self-determination that people gain from living independently is remarkable. This program has ended the cycle of chronic homelessness for every participant who was homeless at the time of entry.

Social Work Program

The Social Work Program offers a unique approach to people who have severe, persistent, and untreated mental illness in Schenectady County. Our program uses the Housing First model for our homeless consumers. While in the process of obtaining housing, our social work staff process intakes and assessments and attempt to secure mental health treatment and other services that enable individuals to remain in permanent housing. The Social Work staff works closely with Case Management forming a cohesive team. The team wraps services around the consumer to achieve residential and income stability. Our Social Work staff counsel consumers and work with each to ensure that appropriate mental health services are obtained and regularly attended.

Residential Programs:

Permanent Supportive Housing

The agency’s sixteen-bed Liberty Apartments and seven beds of the Lighthouse Program are permanent supportive housing residences for chronically homeless adults with a history of untreated severe and persistent mental illness and other disabling conditions. The Housing First model provides housing first for the chronically homeless population, and then combines that housing with supportive treatment services in the areas of mental and physical health, substance abuse, education and employment. We provide advocacy, housing and a safety net for our residents. Staff addresses the needs of the whole person focusing on self-respect, personal growth and discovery of one’s gifts. The agency’s twenty-three permanent supportive housing beds follow this model.

Veterans Transitional Housing

The Lighthouse Program’s three Veteran transitional housing beds are located in Mont Pleasant. In partnership with the Veterans Administration, services include safe and secure housing for adults, transportation to medical appointments, basic living needs, connection and support to services, and case management. Veterans remain in our program for sixty days or longer as necessary.

Housing First

Housing First has been recognized as a best practice by national researchers and policy makers. As a result, communities around the country are piloting projects that employ Housing First principles. The National Alliance to End Homelessness defines the Housing First approach for addressing the chronic homelessness of disabled and vulnerable people as a “client driven strategy that provides immediate access to an apartment without requiring initial participation in psychiatric treatment or treatment for sobriety.”

Housing First Principals:

Housing is a basic human right, not a reward for clinical success

  1. Once the chaos of homelessness is eliminated from a person’s life, clinical and social stabilization occur faster and are more enduring.
  2. Move people into housing directly from streets and shelters without preconditions of treatment acceptance or compliance.
  3. The provider is obligated to bring robust support services to the housing. These services are predicated on assertive engagement, not coercion.
  4. Continued tenancy is not dependent on participation in services.
  5. Units are targeted to the most disabled and vulnerable members of the community.
  6. Embraces harm reduction approach to addictions rather than mandating abstinence. At the same time, the provider must be prepared to support resident commitment to recovery.
  7. Can be implemented as either a project-based or scattered site model.

Other Services

Women’s Group

Every week women meet to discuss their life issues and seek emotional support as they work through the effects of abuse. Our confidential group meets weekly and addresses a variety of issues related to domestic violence. The group provides a comfortable atmosphere to develop healthy relationships in a nurturing environment. The group is facilitated by professionals from Bethesda House, YWCA, and Sexual Assault Support at Planned Parenthood.

There are several volunteers that come each week to assist with the weekly meal and provide additional support as needed. The group discusses topics such as drug and alcohol addiction, housing crisis issues, abusive relationships, and their children. All participants provide confidential and emotional support to those who attend. The facilitators are available for outside referrals and counseling.  Occasionally, guest speakers from the community come to discuss topics of interest to the women. Facilitators plan community outings such as a yearly picnic and a special Mother's Day luncheon; when financial assistance is available, crafts are purchased for attendees to make gifts and holiday projects. The group is served a lunch and, for most, it is the only meal they may eat for the day. The group is free and could be the only source of support and counseling available for those attending.

Men’s Group

Men’s Group has been meeting at the State Street Presbyterian Church, Catherine Street, every Thursday, from 11:30 am – 1:00 pm, for the last 2 years. Reverend Richard Parsons facilitates group discussions such as health, parenting, community, violence, being role models, and spiritually. Outside facilitators are brought in as guest speakers who lead discussions on more sensitive topics for example, terminal illness, and trauma and loss.

Education

Cornell Cooperative Extension and Bethesda House’s Food and Nutrition Coordinator, provide Nutritional Education during our on-going, six-week nutritional program.  Agency staff and staff from Cornell Cooperative Extension teach class participants a wide range of basic nutritional information from menu planning, healthy food selections, to meal preparation. Participants learn the benefits of healthy eating and the positive effects of weight loss and healthier bodies. The program staff teaches how to stretch food stamp dollars and when to access local food pantries to supplement their meals.