Construction has recently finished on the new case management office in the U-District. The office is an addition to ROOTS, a young adult shelter on Northeast 43rd Street, and was a $35,000 project completed with the help of the Schuchart giving committee.

ROOTS was priced at a reduced rate which will help make the existing case management program more accessible.

The giving committee was established to partner with nonprofits providing services to address basic needs such as housing, food, and healthcare.

The chair, Kaegan Faltys-Burr, acted as the project manager and also brought ROOTS to the attention of the rest of the members.

Each member selected one nonprofit as a potential partner. After, Faltys-Burr made his case for ROOTS, and the committee collectively agreed to go forward with the partnership.

“We really liked ROOTS,” Faltys-Burr said. “We felt their values really aligned with the mission of the committee.”

The partnership with ROOTS was established about a year ago, though the new office space is the first project that the two organizations have done together.

The office was built into the existing shelter space and involved adding walls and a door, as well as mechanical and electrical upgrades.

Schuchart provided free labor from 10 of its employees, as well as project management time. They also waived the fees that the company normally charges on its projects. Materials and labor were donated by the following subcontractors: Northwest Partitions, Integrated Door Systems, Washington Commercial Painters, Vital Mechanical Service, and Valley Electric.

In the end, ROOTS only had to pay $25,000 for the project. A price it could afford after receiving grant money from Seattle’s Youth Voice, Youth Choice program.

“This is something that the people we serve have been asking us for for a long time,” ROOTS executive director Kristine Scott said. “It brings case management from a vague idea to something that is right here.”

The new office space comes only months after the formation of a case management team at the shelter. Prior to these two developments, ROOTS had invited case managers from other local organizations into their shelter space, a method that was far from perfect.

“We were over-enrolled,” Scott said. “There were more people who wanted to use the service than we had the capacity for.”

There were also difficulties with the fact that the shelter is a nighttime operation. As Scott explained, no one is enthusiastic about the logistics of their long-term goals at 9 p.m.

To overcome this, ROOTS expanded. It kept its existing contracted workers while also forming a new case management team, consisting of case manager Kayla Guay and jobs coach Nathaniel Lyon.

Guay works to connect people to the resources they need, especially to permanent housing.

“The Housing First Model is something that’s really big in Seattle right now,” Guay said.

The basic idea of the model is in the name, get vulnerable people into housing first, then work on other factors for success, such as jobs. Permanent housing provides a level of stability that can increase the chances for success in employment.

Employment success is where Lyon comes in. His job is to provide support and training for the young people at ROOTS, and as he explains, success isn’t just about getting a paycheck.

“It’s not just about having an income,” Lyon said. “We’re just not talking about part-time jobs. People need a sustainable income.”

According to Guay, many of those staying at ROOTS are employed, but their income is insufficient to independently support themselves.

“That’s where having housing is great,” Guay said. “Now they have somewhere safe to leave their stuff, or their pets. They have the support to maybe find a better job, or enroll in a few classes.”

Coordinated Entry for All is the program King County uses to place people into housing. Guay guides people through the process, starting with the program’s vulnerability assessment to determine the type of service to which an individual is entitled.

However, the nature of that assessment means that it requires discussing deeply personal information, including topics such as a history of drug-use, abuse, or prostitution.

“This isn’t stuff that people want others knowing, especially people that they live with,” Guay said. “It can be hard to find privacy in shelter.”

The new office space provides that privacy. It also brings case management to the only home turf the residents at ROOTS have.

“It’s an office space in the place they sleep, a place they already know,” Guay said “It’s familiar.”

As Guay and Lyon look forward to moving into the new space, the committee is also looking to the future.

“We hope to continue with this partnership,” Faltys-Burr said. “As long as we have the funds we’d like to do some sort of project once a year.”

Reach reporter Eilish McLean at Twitter: @Eilish_McLean

This article was originally published in The Daily. To see the original posting please click HERE.