Our Community Outreach Worker Rob has an impressive 22 year history of navigating housing and homeless supports in Niagara.
As a professional Outreach and Support Worker Rob connects with our most vulnerable citizens, people who are chronically homeless and living on the street. With his distinctively gentle style Rob has been recognized for his abilities to build trust and rapport with clients.
In the early 1990’s Rob was among the few at the frontlines of a new street outreach program in Niagara Falls. He recalls that for first-timers who ended up on the street it was too difficult to navigate services alone. If a person was evicted and had nowhere to turn, they simply fell to street level and lived under bridges and in abandoned buildings.
In Rob’s early years working in outreach the only options for providing clients with shelter were the YWCA and the Salvation Army shelters. During the winter months there was only one overnight grassroots shelter available in Niagara Falls. In his recollection, there was no easy access to services for people living on the streets and as an outreach worker there were limited resources available to help people meet their basic needs.
In the late 1990’s Rob recalls an emergence of a region-wide approach to homelessness; a Niagara Homeless Initiative which brought increased support for outreach. He witnessed new shelters, affordable housing builds and many government reforms to social services. Over the years, he also observed progress in collaboration between agencies which greatly assisted him in increasing the amount of people he was successfully able to assist in finding a stable home.
“The biggest difference between then and now is that many who would have ended up on the street then, now have a better chance of finding a spot in a shelter. Many others facing eviction or homelessness can access supports that will keep them and their families housed.”
Now, Rob works for Bethlehem Housing and Support Services supporting clients in our ‘Housing First’ program. With this program, Rob assists chronically and episodically homeless individuals and families to find independent and permanent housing.
He is especially known for his unique approach and success in creating good relationships with landlords and speaks highly of their understanding of his work. He credits them with the important role they play in providing permanent housing for some of his most challenging clients.
Rob believes that with stable housing people are better equipped and empowered to move forward with their lives. By providing access to rent supplements and support services, the Housing First Program allows Rob to increase his client’s personal resiliency and well-being with the ability to meet their basic needs.
He brings his experienced wrap-around service approach to each client, extending their capacity to find the means to assist themselves in staying successfully housed. Included in his 'Housing First' toolkit are valuable resources and ongoing supports for physical and mental health. He skillfully provides clients with mindful encouragement and a continued focus on gaining important life-skills.
“Rob’s commitment to making our community a better place for all is noteworthy-he is a true housing hero.” – Carolyn Fish, Program Manager
You Can Be A Housing Hero Too:
A Housing Hero shares their time, talent or treasure in a focused way to help raise awareness of the issues surrounding the challenges of finding Affordable Housing in Niagara. A Housing Hero is a fundraising Champion. You can choose to use our online platform and challenge your peers to donate to your profile or you could join a group of friends and run a small fundraising event. Just about anything goes! To see what all of our Housing Heroes have been up to CLICK HERE