ST. GEORGE – The Dixie Care and Share Transition Center is where 36 St. George residents will be spending their Christmas morning this year thanks to the new program that supports employed individuals who would otherwise be homeless in their goals to gain self-sufficiency.
Indeterminate housing provides people who are working, employed, or have a fixed income with a place to call home for a nominal weekly fee that is low enough to help them save the cash it takes to cover a deposit, first month’s rent and utilities on future permanent housing, said Robert Schaefer, Dixie Care and Share director of operations.
“Today we have 36 people in transitional housing,” he said. “… one guy just got here the night before last, but I have people here already that have been here for six months.”
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Videocast by Melissa Anderson, KCSG and St. George News
The transitional housing is still a fairly new project, Schaefer said, and so Dixie Care and Share facilitators are still feeling it out, but, he said, it’s anticipated that it could take anywhere from one to two years for a resident to save enough money to be able to move out on their own.
“We’ve realized that with the wage basis in St. George that this could take up to two years,” he said.
The rent versus wages in St. George are not exactly in the same playing field, Schaefer said, and though there are plenty of jobs to be had in the area, it is difficult to find a position that will sustain the cost of living for most people with whom they come into contact.
“I don’t think that it’s particularly hard right now to find a job,” he said. “I think it’s probably hard to find a job that will totally sustain your living, because I know that the majority of available jobs in St. George are in the service industry and the wages are typically low – in an area where rent is not typically low.”
Most people end up working two jobs so they can save the money needed to move on permanent housing, Schaefer said.
Currently employed, 25-year-old Melody Schabow, who is a single mother of three, said she has also gone back to school to work towards her General Educational Development, or GED, certificate. It is because those who run the transition housing at the Dixie Care and Share push her to work harder and want more for herself and her children that she has achieved so much recently.
“They push you to do what you need to do in life to become self-sufficient,” Schabow said. “The directors … and a lot of the others have been really helpful towards me – pushing me to maintain employment and I started going back to school at Stevens-Henager.”
In addition to three meals a day that are provided to the residents at the transition center, volunteers come in and work with them as case managers and teach them how to navigate various services that are available in the city, as well as budget and save their money.
While she said she could admit it wasn’t the best place in the world to be, Schabow said, she feels more and more empowered, because of the environment she is in.
“Sometimes I am feeling down and everybody will just pick you up and tell you how proud they are of you and it’ll help you keep going,” she said. “So it may not be the best place in the world to be, but it’s definitely comforting here.”
The homeless shelter is full right now, Schaefer said. If transition housing didn’t exist, young mothers like Schabow would most likely be spending their holiday somewhere out in the cold.
“There has to be, necessarily, some place for these people, especially (the ones) with kids, to be housed,” he said. “We can’t have them on the street.”
This time of year, Shaefer said, has always been the best time of year for fundraising goods and services and funds for Dixie Care and Share. He said it is inspiring to live in a community that pulls together the way that the citizens of St. George do.
“I have to say,” Schaefer said. “I’ve lived in numerous cities and towns in my life and I have yet to see one that is as giving as St. George, Utah is – if there is a need, these people will fill it.”
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