Ellen Channels has worked at SAVE Inc. for eight years, and Kathy Elmore for 10 years. Each of them wears several hats, but they both said the entire staff at SAVE Inc. gives one-on-one assistance to the people they serve, whether those people are referred to as clients, participants or tenants.
“We do everything here. We try and provide everything wrapped into one staff member,” Elmore said.
SAVE Inc. works with clients to provide housing that adds to the quality of their lives. The agency even allows residents to have pets, within certain rules.
As program manager of intake and quality management, Channels said, “I do the intakes for most of our programs here and deal with everybody who is coming into the agency for the first time. That also means I work with people that come in off the street looking for housing, cold calls, case managers.
“Then I also do a variety of our one-touch programs — emergency assistance and transitional programs that we don’t ever actually see the clients, but we help them pay their bills and things like that on a one-time basis.
“And then I also do the quality-management piece for the agency of auditing files and doing required reports for the different grantees, and just working on ways to improve what we do here. “
Elmore, who is the program manager of tenant-based rental assistance, added something about Channels’ role: “I think there is one thing that Ellen left out. We have a new database, and it’s not really in her job title, but she’s really been a pioneer in that and has helped us in our growth.”
Elmore said the use of vouchers for housing has increased the number of rentals available for SAVE Inc. clients in addition to the properties owned by SAVE.
“We do want to work with landlords that provide safe decent and sanitary housing,” she said.
Elmore said they sometimes run into troublesome situations with non-preferred landlords and they avoid using them.
“Most of our programs are permanent housing,” Channels said. “We do have some programs that are time-limited. We have some transitional programs and some other programs that may have some restrictions based on funding. But the majority of our housing is permanent housing, which means that people sign a lease, they agree to stay in that residence for a year, whether it be our housing or a voucher program. And each year, they have a certification process, where they decide if they want to stay or move.”
The health needs of clients served by SAVE have changed over the years. When the agency began in 1986, it was the first 24-hour hospice in Missouri for AIDS patients.
“We’ve expanded the mission to include a couple of other disabilities,” Channels said. “So at this point, it’s HIV/AIDS, mental illness and substance abuse.”
The agency calls these “impoverishing disabilities.”
“I think with our change of mission, we really opened ourselves up to a whole new group of landlords, and a whole new group of funders, and a whole new group of people to network with,” Elmore said. “It was important to speak about HIV and AIDS, but it was also important to speak out about some of the other people we were already serving.”
Now SAVE Inc. serves almost 700 individuals and families each month in a 15-county area, helping them find safe, affordable housing. Channels, Elmore and the other staff members are there to offer personal assistance along the way.
The Silverleaf Project
Over the last four years, SAVE Inc. reports, the agency has added four programs and 13 staff positions and has increased services by more than 60 percent. This growth has increased the need to build their infrastructure.
The agency is renovating a storage building known as the Silverleaf Building to transform it into a programming hub for client services and tenant educational opportunities. In addition, they will be adding to the needs of their current location, Mitchell House, which is at full capacity.
SAVE Inc. has embarked on a capital campaign to raise $650,000 to support this growth in programming. The plan includes:
• Total renovation of the Silverleaf Building on 31st Street — $478,000.
• Upates and minor improvements to Mitchell House –$20,000.
• New office, conference room and maintenance workshop equipment for Silverleaf and Mitchell House — $60,000.
• Improvement and expansion of technology infrastructure — $38,000
• Operating expenses for the Silverleaf Building for 24 months — $54,000.