El Paso Coalition for the Homeless
The El Paso Coalition for the Homeless (EPCH) is a membership-driven alliance that was created to develop resources and help support the El Paso Continuum of Care (CoC) in its mission to end homelessness in our community. The CoC is comprised of numerous agencies, entities, and individuals that devote their time and efforts to providing housing, services, and additional support to those that are homeless. EPCH’s main objective is to analyze the programs and services that are being offered to this population and identify and address any opportunities to further provide the best assistance available. EPCH acts as the principal advocate in the community on behalf of the homeless and coordinates services for its member agencies. In addition, EPCH strives to ignite change and come up with creative and innovative solutions through research and collaboration with its partners. Providing education about the various needs of our community’s homeless population, as well as identifying the resources available to meet those needs is at the forefront of everything we do.

Causes: Homelessness and Housing

The El Paso Coalition for the Homeless is a membership driven agency comprised of homeless service providers, veteran organizations, and other non-profit entities. We are involved in several events that seek to achieve the goal of making sure that homelessness is rare, brief and non-recurring.

CENSUS 2020 FOCUS: COUNTING THE HARD TO COUNT

For the past year, we have been working with the Census Bureau to ensure that individuals experiencing homelessness, both sheltered and unsheltered, are counted and considered during the 2020 Census. People experiencing homelessness are at risk of being undercounted due to their transitory nature and are the ones who depend most on what the 2020 Census can bring to our community, such as more funding for services that impact this vulnerable population, such as SNAP benefits, Medicaid, and CHIP. As a result of the El Paso Coalition for the Homeless recognizing the importance of the 2020 Census, we spent roughly $11,000 ensuring that those most vulnerable would be counted. For example, we worked with several non-profit entities to host several events, such as our Winter Coat Drive, to spread awareness and help those in attendance complete the 2020 Census and apply for Census employment. During this event, we provided approximately 100 coats to families who were at the time residing in our transitional living centers, children’s emergency shelter, and domestic violence shelter. In addition to the coats provided, in partnership with several churches and food banks, we were able to provide non-perishable food and hygiene products. Furthermore, in order to ensure that individuals experiencing unsheltered homelessness were counted and considered, we invested in facemasks when the pandemic began, as well as hand sanitizer to ensure that those most vulnerable were also safe as well as assisted with completing the 2020 Census online and by phone.

Additionally, we informed residents who were residing at several shelters throughout our community, including the new Delta Welcome Center, on the importance of completing the census and how it impacts them. Finally, we partnered with restaurants and pizza parlors to offer Pizza Parties to all shelters and transitional living centers alike who had 100% of their residents complete the 2020 Census. Our efforts resulted in approximately 470 people experiencing homelessness completing the 2020 Census.

As you can see, the El Paso Coalition recognizes the importance of ensuring that those who are experiencing homelessness are not just assisted with housing resources, but are also assisted with gaining a sense of empowerment when they know they are one of many individuals responsible for the funding that flows into our El Paso Community as a result of the 2020 Census. For too long have those experiencing homelessness in El Paso been stigmatized, judged, and marginalized. This is why we are working so hard with others to ensure that not only do they overcome their homelessness, but they also overcome their mental illness, their substance use, they overcome their inability to reunite with their families and friends.

COVID-19: SUPPORTING AGENCIES AND THE HOMELESS DURING THE PANDEMIC

Too many people ask what the El Paso Coalition for the Homeless truly does. The question should really be what we don’t do. Before the pandemic hit El Paso, we mobilized our homeless service providers to find out what they needed then to keep their clients and themselves safe and we provided guidance on how to prevent the spread of the virus. We collaborated with El Pasoans Fighting Hunger Food Bank to ensure that those formerly homeless and most vulnerable to getting COVID19 were provided with weekly food boxes, so they did not have to leave their homes to grocery shop. To date, the El Paso Coalition for the Homeless, in partnership with El Pasoans Fighting Hunger Food Bank, local churches, and the El Paso Chihuahuas have provided approximately 1500 food boxes to formerly homeless clients, including veterans. To add, we worked with United Way and the City to get PPE, including facemasks, bleach, and hand sanitizer to those on the frontlines of working with the homeless, such as our Street Outreach teams, Emergency Shelters and Transitional Living Centers. We worked tirelessly with our Rapid Rehousing programs to ensure that people were housed as quickly as possible and those at risk of eviction, were provided with the funds to remain housed and safe. And at the same time, we continued to push the importance of completing the 2020 Census, because we know how critical it is to the population we serve.

The El Paso Coalition for the Homeless has shown that even in the midst of a pandemic that we are not slowing down because we know that those who are homeless depend on us to be the change-makers in their lives!

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