Catholic Charities of Central Florida staff and volunteers recently partnered with the Central Florida Commission on Homelessness to hit the streets to help the homeless in downtown Orlando. Health Care Center for the Homeless, Inc.’s, HOPE (Homeless Outreach Partnership Effort) Team provided training for the volunteers before their mission began.

Heather Knoop, Family Stability program director at Catholic Charities and case manager Anita Capetillo were among those taking part in the two hour “surge” (a group of people going out and covering a region in order to gain information about those living on the streets). The goal of the surge is to pair homeless individuals with resources offered through various agencies. In order for someone to receive any kind of service, they first have to be registered with Homeless Services Network (HSN), a management system that tracks efforts and success in matching homeless people with their need for housing, work, food and other services.

Knoop said this was “a relationship-building exercise and outreach to make sure the homeless are connected to the resources that are available.” She added, “We’re building relationships so that they know that people are out there working to get them off the streets.”

“The faith community has resources to jobs, landlords, employment and Medicare,” said Knoop. “Some of the resources offered (by other agencies) don’t fill those gaps. I think it’s important to make those connections with them and to make sure they know there is someone out there and working on their side.”

Later in the year, Catholic Charities will go on another surge. These outings also assist in placing people through the Rapid Re-housing Program which is a model aimed at housing the homeless first and then linking them to resources in the community. This past year, Catholic Charites Family Stability Program housed 68 families through the Rapid Re-housing grant provided by the state. Knoop said, “This helps us get the data on them so we can see what services they qualify for. Working with other agencies to create partnerships within the community and know what each other does is, all across the board, a good collaboration.”