United Caring Services on Tuesday dedicated a new medical respite facility for homeless women, located in Ruth’s House at East Walnut and Governor streets.
The facility has four medical beds and will be available for homeless women who need a place to recover from illness or injury. It will mean those women are not discharged into the street.
Together with Deaconess Health System, United Caring Services in 2014 started a one-year pilot for homeless men recovering from illness or injury. It’s a six-bed facility.
“It started for men because we had the available space in the men’s shelter, and during the time we’ve done that over the past years, we’ve been wanting to expand it to meet women’s needs,” said Jason Emmerson, United Caring Services executive director.
Ruth’s House is the United Caring Services emergency night shelter. Two of its back rooms have been renovated for recuperating women. Each room as two beds. They are for women 16 or older who are referred from a medical facility.
Emmerson said the program aims to reduce hospital readmission while working to find permanent housing for clients. While in respite, clients will receive case-management services.
The estimated operations cost of the women’s facility is $60,000 per year, and $175,000 for the whole program.
The program for men saw 29 guests and 898 overnight stays in its first year, followed by 40 guests and 825 nights in its second year. In its first year, 41 percent had permanent housing after leaving. The figure grew to 57 percent in its second year. Many others were placed in sheltered housing.
“We’re all a part of this continuum of care, so they can have a better future, stability and hope,” Emmerson said.
A long list of local agencies supported the initiative. Members of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church of New Harmony, Indiana, presented a $500 check at Tuesday’s formal opening of the respite for women. The church was an early partner, making intake bags for guests in the program for men. It will continue to do so for men and women.
“We’re a small congregation but they all have a large heart,” said Karen Seal, a church member.
Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke was present for the formal opening of the women’s respite.
“I think it’s really critical that our community knows we have multiple organizations, lots of individuals who are in this space of trying to help our community’s most vulnerable,” he said. “(The respite program) speaks boldly about the big heart our community has.”