Switchpoint Building a Community
Sometimes a simple change in direction can get a person out of homelessness and on track for a better life. For so many people struggling with the reality of homelessness, Switchpoint was the beginning of that much needed change.
In 2013, St. George City was seeking a solution for the growing homeless population that often comes with community growth. The current shelter had been utilized to its full extent and was tired, run down and didn’t provide opportunities for anything but a night by night band aid to those who were experiencing homelessness.
An ambitious new vision of an all-in-one resource center for the homeless and others in dire financial straights, Switchpoint, offers case management and a full array of services to try and get struggling individuals and families back on their feet, back to work and back into a home.
Switchpoint Community Resource Center takes a variety of resources available throughout the community and coordinates between different entities to offer more comprehensive help to the homeless and those struggling with poverty, with help from more than a dozen community partners, including charities like United Way Dixie, the Dove Center and the Salvation Army as well as governmental agencies such as the Department of Workforce Services, the Department of Motor Vehicles and Washington County School District.
By focusing on a more individualized approach — case managers for each client, cooperation with more than a dozen area nonprofits and government agencies — Switchpoint has been able to get more results than a more traditional homeless “shelter,” where housing and food is offered but usually not much else.
It Takes All of Us
The motto of Switchpoint is “It Takes All Of Us” which couldn’t be more true. Without the surrounding community and volunteers willing to donate their time and means, Switchpoint would not be able to function nor would it be as successful. The core of Switchpoint’s work is the dream that one day families will no longer be struggling to make ends meet. That they will have the skills they need to be self-sufficient and thriving. By implementing the Switchpoint model of providing case management tools, community resources, education and job skill training, we can stop the cycle of poverty in Washington County. We can end homelessness for our community, one life at a time.
Switchpoint Community Resource Center
At the heart of Switchpoint Community Resource Center, where, at any given time, about 80 individuals, families and veterans are turning their lives around, receiving the community help they need all while getting love and acceptance to help them overcome their past. While searching for a place to call home, they live in a caring environment designed to build up and assist them on their journey to self-sufficiency.
Switchpoint Community Resource Center provides many opportunities for clients to volunteer in their community as well as develop job skills through their on-site emergency food pantry, nearby thrift store and doggy daycare, Bed ‘n’ Biscuits. Switchpoint believes that clients need to earn what they receive. Through volunteering at the shelter, food pantry, thrift store or Bed ‘n’ Biscuits, clients earn Switchbucks that they can accumulate during their stay and redeem for necessary items, such as dress clothes for interviews, basic hygiene items or tokens for use of the on-site laundry facilities.
Around the County
The ability to end homelessness can only be achieved when like-minded organizations and individuals come together. Switchpoint works collaboratively with over 20 different non-profits, civic groups, government and regular folks throughout the county. Our programs get to the root cause of homelessness as each person is unique, so is their story of why and how they came to be experiencing homelessness.
We also work collaboratively with state and regional leaders and are a proven best practice. We are the proud lead of the Point In Time Count for Washington County. The Point in Time Count is intended to provide a snapshot of a community’s homeless population. It is one way to collectively understand the scope and breadth of homelessness in our nation and our individual communities. The count is an important effort that ensures the voices of people experiencing homelessness in the community are heard and efforts are made to provide appropriate services. It also helps communities develop more effective plans and measure progress toward ending homelessness.
The Switchpoint model has been shown to be a best practice as many other cities and towns throughout Utah and nearby states are developing their own resource centers after visiting Switchpoint.
Locally and Nationally, Switchpoint is Advocating for the Following:
Ending Generational Poverty: Switchpoint is working hard to combat generational poverty locally and statewide. Utilizing the Circles Program USA, public awareness campaigns, legislative work and on-going education programs for families, we are working to build bridges out of the poverty cycle and empower families through education.
Affordable Housing for Everyone: Switchpoint believes that everyone deserves to have an affordable place to call home. Currently in Washington County, the vacancy rate for rentals is less than one percent. That’s right…less than one percent. This equates to rentals being very scarce and prices for units being artificially inflated. Even though citizens are employed, they still cannot afford to live – underemployment is much greater and causes a high rent burden. When this scenario plays out it impacts the local economy and increases reliance on social services to fill the gaps. That’s why Switchpoint is working on developing RiverWalk Village.
RiverWalk Village is a 55 unit affordable housing tax credit complex targeting extremely low and chronically homeless individuals. Residents of RiverWalk Village continue to work with a case manager and learn skills that will build bridges out of generational poverty.
Tiny Homes for Chronically Homeless: There are many chronically homeless that still are in need of support in order to live on their own but feel the desire to be surrounded by friends and community. It has been proven that when those dealing with chronic homelessness are housed, they often walk away because they do not feel connected to their neighbors. Community is everything with helping the chronically homeless feel comfortable and able to contribute to society. Tiny Home Communities help those who have been on the streets connect with their neighbors, contribute to their community and most importantly stay housed in a safe and caring environment.