The Saffron Strand Model
Conventional public and charity services address the homeless person’s immediate problems, for example food, shelter, life-threatening disease, or injury. This approach is appropriate and effective on an emergency basis. However, if solving these immediate problems is all that happens, then the homeless person’s risk of dependency on emergency services grows. Over time, the homeless person can develop “learned helplessness” and become conditioned to survive at a subsistence level in the care of others.
Meeting the basic needs of the homeless for food, shelter, and health care remains critical. However, overcoming the degradation, humiliation, ill-health effects, and stigma of homelessness requires a higher purpose to which both the homeless and those who would help them can commit. For Saffron Strand members, that higher purpose is economic independence and self-reliance through work: Work that makes use of individual learned skills and personal talents and that has the potential to earn a paycheck or generate income from legitimate enterprise. In focusing on work, the Saffron Strand Model emphasizes and enhances a homeless person’s individual strengths, without ignoring personal challenges such as a criminal record, substance abuse problems, etc.
Saffron Strand, Inc. is the Richmond-based 501(c)(3) non-profit membership organization which builds the employability and increases the employment of homeless adults in Richmond and other Contra Costa communities. Our homeless members join an intentional community dedicated to improving the life, social, and vocational skills of individual members, thereby empowering them to achieve and sustain gainful employment or a successful micro enterprise.
How We Do It
Membership in Saffron Strand is free to homeless adults in Contra Costa County. Individuals join Saffron Strand to achieve solutions to their personal challenges with the goal of improving their employability, finding and sustaining a good-paying job, and overcoming homelessness. Our Point Richmond office functions as their base during the workday. The office offers a professional business environment, where the homeless train on work-related skills and experience respect and dignity which typically are not part of life in shelters or on the streets. Members work a few hours per week in non-paying jobs that support Saffron Strand programming, including development, community outreach, and professional training and public education on issues of homelessness.
Through Saffron Strand programming at the office, Saffron Strand annual events, and community events throughout Contra Costa County, members benefit from:
Why It Works
Saffron Strand succeeds in getting homeless people back to work because we provide:
For more information about Saffron Strand, its members, and its supporters, please visit http://saffronstrand.org.
Executive Director, Saffron Strand
Photos: Tiffany Scott training Sarah Muton; Ebony Jackson Working at Computer; Award to Homeless Member Tiffany Scott; Training
The Richmond Progressive Alliance has a Sub-committee to Reduce Homelessness.
Its mission is to identify, report, and help implement effective, sustainable solutions to reduce homelessness in Richmond, focusing first on ways and means to increase the legitimate employment of the city's homeless. It meets the third Saturday of every month at 10:00 am. For more information contact Jerome by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sustainable Solutions to Homelessness Conference
Saffron Strand with the City of Richmond has had two annual conferences on homelessness drawing participants for around the state and country.
Goals of the Conference
The 2011 Conference enabled all engaged in working with the homeless or managing issues involving the homeless to improve their professional expertise and performance. “Sustainable Solutions to Homelessness” provided practical ways to increase the cost-effectiveness of the continuum of care and transition of the homeless out of homelessness. Conference goals included:
In a dynamic plenary session on “Homeless and Going to Work: Beyond Barriers to Passion and Possibility,” acclaimed author and job development consultant Denise Bissonnette challenged us to stretch our thinking, question our assumptions, and turn our traditional way of looking at ourselves and the world on its head!