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SHELTER DIVERSION PLANNING UNDERWAY

Goal is for the program to start June 2024

Planning and strategizing to create and implement a Shelter Diversion program began today! Staff from Family Promise of Waukesha County and the Balance of State participated in a strategic planning session on May 3. The focus of this session was to:


  • create and prioritize goals,

  • consider strategies for reaching those goals and

  • determine how will we measure the effectiveness of the program.



Since Diversion is a new service, here are some facts about the program:


Q. Who does the program serve?

The diversion program that we are developing will focus on families with minor children who have already lost their previous housing but have not yet entered shelter. 


Q. What are you diverting families from? 

The program is called diversion because we want to divert a family from having to go into the shelter system. This means it will take a great deal of creativity and ingenuity to help families find a place to stay without going into shelter.


Q. Why not just use the shelter system?

The shelter system is still valuable and important, but we want it to be a last resort. Too often shelter can become a lifestyle, especially in this current housing crisis, which makes it extremely difficult for families in shelter to find permanent housing. The other reality is that there is not enough shelter space to accommodate those who are in need. No family experiencing homelessness in Waukesha County should  ever have to sleep in their car or a tent.


Q. How is diversion different from prevention?

Diversion is designed for families who have already been evicted. Prevention is financial assistance that will help families to maintain their current housing situation. 


Q. How will you identify families with a need?

That will be an enormous and most important challenge to address. This is why we need everyone to learn about this program. An essential component will be connecting with all those who could potentially encounter families experiencing homelessness. This means having conversations with other agencies serving families experiencing homelessness, school districts, congregations, police departments, Waukesha County Sheriff Department, hospitals, elected government officials and staff to name a few. To be successful we need to develop a program that has buy-in and participation from all elements of our community. 


Q. What strategies will you use to divert families from shelter?

There are many strategies that can be used, part of our planning process is to identify what is best for Waukesha County. Plus we also know we will not be able to implement every strategy immediately so we will also need to prioritize and be honest about what can be accomplished in what time frame. With that in mind here are some strategies that will be considered:

  • security deposits and first month rent

  • temporary hotel stay

  • mediation between tenant and landlord 

  • incentivizing a landlord to accept a tenant with a recent eviction

  • covering moving/storage costs 

  • developing a mediation process for landlords and tenants before eviction

  • providing legal representation during eviction 


Q When will the program start?

Our goal is to start assisting families starting June 2024. 


Q What questions do you have?

Send any questions to joe@familypromisewaukeshawi.org and we will publish another Q+A in the future.


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