Emily Anderson ’13 spent her summer assisting Journey Home combat homelessness in the Greater Hartford, CT area through the support of the Levitt Public Service Internship Funding. Journey Home is a non-profit that works with local homeless providers to develop best practices to end chronic homelessness. Anderson worked on a variety of projects for the organization, including creating survey to assess the gap between the job skills of homeless individuals and available jobs, working on a team to create a new Homeless Prevention Program, and contacting Hartford landlords about Journey Home’s "Moving On" initiative.
To create her survey Anderson gathered volunteers and spent one night interviewing 49 homeless individuals at a nearby emergency shelter. She then compiled the data she gathered and highlighted important findings. “For example, many of these people hold licenses or certificates for job skills,” said Anderson. “On the other hand, a dangerously high number do not have a valid driver's license. I presented my findings both to the Journey Home Steering Committee and at the annual Journey Home Board of Directors meeting.” Journey Home is hoping to expand the survey to all the shelters in Hartford, contingent upon their ability to obtain more funding for gift care incentives and volunteer training.
Anderson is also working on designing a screening tool to determine eligibility for the new Homelessness Prevention Program. Homelessness prevention essentially means temporary financial assistance to individuals or families at imminent risk of homelessness. “I have spent a lot of time looking at programs in other cities, and creating a "points system" to assess people's barriers and employability,” said Anderson. “It's a really difficult task because we need to balance targeting people who would actually become homeless without assistance, but also people who will be successful with this short-term assistance and are not facing too many barriers to employment.” Anderson also contacted Hartford landlords about Journey Home’s “Moving On” initiative, a voluntary initiate that offers current, stable tenants of supportive housing who no longer need intensive support services that at a reduced level, and a rental subsidy that can be utilized for alternative housing.
Throughout the summer Anderson had the opportunity to meet a lot of different people, such as case managers, homeless service providers, housing agencies, which added to her interest in pursuing a career in public service. “In particular,” she said, “being able to actually interview some shelter clients and get to know some homeless individuals on our consumer advisory committee has made me more passionate about a career in this field. It is unbelievable that in a city as wealthy as Hartford (highest GDP per capita) there is such a homelessness problem.” As a result of her experience, Anderson is committed to pursuing a career in public service.
In addition, Anderson researched and wrote an article entitled “Homelessness Prevention:
An Inexpensive Solution to a Costly Social Problem” for a Communities & Banking publication of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. Her article can be viewed here.