Poverty & Homelessness
More and more families are struggling to meet daily needs. At any one point in time, there are more than 1,200 children and adults in our community who are experiencing some form of homelessness. Even for those who have a home, our client data reveals that 80% of our clients have annual incomes of $20,000 or less. The requests for emergency assistance far outnumber our resources. Volunteers and donors help us serve many more families than we could with staff alone.
The two major components of this program, Hardship Assistance and Housing, provide immediate as well as long-term survival assistance to residents in specific areas of our community. Fortunately, there is growing awareness among our supporters that families need permanent housing in order to make long-term changes.
Housing stability combined with supportive services helps parents gain skills that lead to independence. And fixed housing allows them to cope with other financial pressures — the clients in our permanent supportive housing programs are proving it.
You can make the days a little brighter for the vulnerable children and families we serve.
Contact the volunteer coordinator to:
- Help organize or staff our Back to School event in Council Bluffs in August 12, 2009
- Help with holiday celebrations
- Adopt a Family
- Provide child care while parents are in groups
- Help children with homework
- Teach cooking, budgeting, or other life skills
- Sort donations for the families at our Sarpy Donations Center
- Organize a Wish List collection
Programs in this category
Brief crisis and referral services are provided for basic survival needs, to help stabilize immediate situations concerning food, clothing, housing and utility assistance. Clients of Heartland Family Service may obtain needed items from the following programs:
Case Management (Sarpy County)
Case management provides mid-level support services between crisis intervention and professional counseling. Case managers assess a person’s situation, help find the community services needed, and check to see that the services were provided and were beneficial to the client. In addition, the case manager helps the client work out a more permanent solution to the particular problem, in an effort to empower individuals and families to continue living independently.
For residents in Sarpy county call Metro Home BASE at 402-934-2273 or 402-934-(BASE).
Career Clothing Closet (Omaha)
Located at our North Office, the primary purpose of the program is to help men and women transition into self-sustaining careers. The service is free and open to Heartland Family Service clients as well as those referred by other agencies, colleges and shelters throughout the metro area. Clients are given appropriate clothing for job interviews, as well as a small wardrobe for starting a career or job training. Voluneers and clothing donations to the Career Clothing Closet are welcome.
For more information call 402-451-6244.
Gendler Emergency Medication Service (Omaha)
GEMS provides free or low-cost prescriptions to individuals who need medication they cannot afford. Assistance is available primarily to individuals and families in the North Omaha area, who have no medical insurance and have exhausted all other resources available to pay for medicine. Members of the Heartland Family Service Senior Center are also eligible. Participants may be requested to share in the cost of their prescriptions; however, the service is offered on a sliding fee scale, based on and revised according to federal poverty guidelines. These funds are made available through a personal endowment gift to the agency by Lee and Carol Gendler.
For more information call 402-451-6244.
Holiday Assistance Programs (North Omaha & Sarpy Counties)
Donors and volunteers are essential in providing extra assistance to Heartland Family Service clients during the holidays. Clients must sign up for these services:
- Adopt-A-Family Distributions: Heartland Family Service client families are matched with holiday donors of food and gifts. For more information on adopting a family, in Sarpy County call 402-339-2544, North Omaha call 402-457-7792 and in Pottawattamie County call 712-435-5350.
- General Distributions: Other Heartland Family Service clients who are in need of holiday assistance are eligible for civic and religious donation programs through our association with the Omaha World-Herald Goodfellows, Toys for Tots and community churches.
- Sarpy County Holiday Assistance: Toys are made available through the cooperation of various Sarpy County agencies in a mass distribution on one day in December.
Pottawattamie County Homeless Link (Pottawattamie County)
The Heartland Family Service Pottawattamie County Homeless Link (PCHL) Program is a collaborative partnership designed to link homeless service providers together to streamline services and address the comprehensive needs of homeless individuals and families in Pottawattamie County. Partners include Heartland Family Service, MICAH House Emergency Family Shelter, MOHM’s Place meal site and housing facility and Iowa Legal Aid. Heartland Family Service, the lead agency, provides transitional housing, outreach, mental health counseling, substance abuse treatment and supportive services.
PCHL has three components. Case management workers staff MICAH House and MOHM’s Place, providing connections to permanent housing options, financial assistance (when available), transportation, housing, medical and dental referrals, and access to basic needs including food stamps and Medicaid. Short-term, scattered-site transitional housing is provided to clients who are at imminent risk of homelessness or are leaving homeless shelters. Participants are assisted with deposit and rent for approximately three months. Case management services are provided in the home. Transitions, a seven-unit transitional housing facility, is staffed by a case manager who works with clients to identify needs and set goals to help individuals and families achieve independent living.
For more information call Metro Home BASE at 402-934-2273 or 402-934-BASE.
Sarpy Donations Center (Omaha/metro area)
The Sarpy Office Donations Center provides emergency and basic needs to individuals and families experiencing crisis and/or financial hardships. In-Kind donations are received from individuals and businesses in the community. All donated items are distributed free of charge to programs and those in need. This service is open to Heartland Family Service clients as well as those referred by other agencies, schools and shelters throughout the metro area. Clients need to arrange a visit to the Donations Center with a staff from their program.
Donations of new or gently used clothing, bed and bath linens, household goods or furniture are greatly appreciated. Wish list items, towels, diapers and new personal hygiene items are always needed. Please drop-off donations at our Sarpy Office located at 302 American Parkway, Papillion, NE 68046. A Record of Donation will be provided to you for your tax purposes. For more information contact (402) 552-7082.
Donations Center Hours:
Monday & Tuesday 8:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Wednesday 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Thursday 8:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Friday 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Closed Saturday & Sunday
Volunteers are always needed to sort items and assist clients, and hours are negotiable. For more information contact Devon Adams at 402-552-7418 or DAdams@heartlandfamilyservice.org.
The Tri-City Ministerial Association Pantry (Sarpy County)
This food pantry is located at our Sarpy facility for clients residing in Papillion, La Vista and Ralston. The pantry is offered through a collaboration of local churches located in this geographic area. Bellevue residents are served through a separate food pantry located in Bellevue.
Referrals for the food pantry can be accessed by contacting the Sarpy Neighborhood Emergency Services Program Specialists at (402)339-2544.
Transitional and permanent supportive housing provide long-term stability for homeless families. Heartland Family Service has significantly expanded its services to this population over the last few years in order to meet community needs. As a member of the Metro Area Continuum of Care for the Homeless (MACCH), we participate in the collaborative Homes for All: Omaha/Council Bluffs 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness.
Click to view our Homeless Services flier
Heartland Homes (Pottawattamie County)
Located on the Charles E. Lakin Human Services Campus in Council Bluffs, Heartland Homes is a permanent supportive housing program for families and individuals who are currently homeless. Case management, therapeutic services and stable housing are provided to strengthen the family’s success. A unique aspect of this program is that support services address the root causes of homelessness to help residents maintain permanent housing. A permanent home permits the adults to develop skills and identify support systems that can assist, should a crisis arise in the future. Residents generally move out of the apartments and into a permanent home of their own within a year or two.
For more information call 712-435-5360.
Permanent Supportive Scattered-site Housing
Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) programs assist individuals with disabilities who are experiencing homelessness in Douglas and Sarpy Counties in obtaining and maintaining permanent housing. The scattered-site nature of the program provides individuals with financial assistance to obtain housing within the community. The programs are designed to serve individuals with significant barriers to stable housing.
The goal of the programs is to assist participants in maintaining permanent housing and to prevent any recurrence of homelessness. The programs provide housing assistance and case management services in a low-demand housing model. Although the programs are not time limited, the community-based nature of the program allows participants to remain in their housing should they graduate the program and no longer need assistance. Participants pay rent up to 30% of their adjusted income.
• Heartland Housing Beginnings is a PSH program for young adults ages 18-24. To be eligible for the program, applicants must also be a former ward of the State (formerly in state custody or foster care).
• Heartland Housing Solutions is a PSH program for single women, couples and families with children. The head of household must qualify as having a “disabling condition” in order for the family to be eligible.
• Samaritan Housing a PSH program for single individuals who are experiencing long-term or chronic homelessness. To be eligible, individuals must qualify as “chronically homeless.”
Temporary Rental Assistance
The purpose of our temporary rental assistance programs is to provide assistance that prevents homelessness, and to rapidly re-house persons who are already homeless. Supportive services include housing search, relocation assistance and ongoing case management.
• Heartland Housing Passages is a transitional housing program that provides temporary financial assistance (1-12 months) and case coordination services to individuals and families who are homeless or are at imminent risk of homelessness. To be eligible for the program, individuals must be a former ward of the State (formerly in foster care or state custody) and a resident of Douglas or Sarpy Counties.
For more information call Metro Home BASE at 402-934-2273 or 402-934-(BASE).
• Heartland Housing Opportunities (Rapid Re-Housing) provides assistance to rapidly re-house persons who are experiencing homelessness. Temporary financial assistance (1-12 months) and supportive services are provided. Resources are targeted and prioritized to serve households that are most in need of this temporary assistance and are most likely to achieve stable housing after the assistance concludes. To be eligible, applicants must reside in Douglas or Sarpy counties in Nebraska, or Pottawattamie County in Iowa AND be literally homeless.
For more information call Metro Home BASE at 402-934-2273 or 402-934-(BASE).
Click to view the Heatland Housing Opportunities Flier
Transitions (Pottawattamie County)
To support the Pottawattamie County Homeless Link collaborative, Heartland Family Service provides a transitional housing shelter, which offers a stable home complemented by wrap-around services to help homeless families get back on their feet. The shelter is located in Council Bluffs. Eligible families – those motivated to participate in a two-year program — may live at the shelter for two years at a greatly reduced rent. This extended support is enough time to find an appropriate job, stabilize finances and arrange permanent housing. At the same time, Homeless Link participating agencies will serve the tenants through a collaborative approach, teaching self-sufficiency skills and encouraging their personal skills development.
For more information call 712-329-8900.