HOUSING SUPPORTS FOR HOMELESS FAMILIES
EMERGENCY SERVICES – Bell Family Shelter
Bell Family Shelter opened in 1986 and remains York County’s only 30-day emergency shelter serving homeless families. [717-845-9536]
Many of the families served by the Shelter find themselves homeless because of insufficient income, job loss or poor housing conditions. As a safe, temporary place with supportive services, staying at the Shelter helps families navigate the challenges of homelessness and regain their independence.
Bell Family Shelter’s eleven-bedroom facility houses as many as forty people per night (about half of whom are under the age of 12) and provides all the basic needs for food, clothing and shelter.
When families arrive at the Shelter doorstep they often require more than just a safe place to sleep for the night. Throughout their stay with us they meet with service and supports coordinators to build a personalized family goal plan to help them regain and maintain independent living in the community.
Intensive guidance sessions, workshops and classes help people learn budgeting and parenting skills, offer assistance to secure permanent housing and job placement, and provide access to a network of community resources.
The Shelter’s staff support helps many families secure permanent housing in fewer than 20 days. Most of the families (89%) utilizing the Shelter never need to access emergency housing again.
The Shelter is open 365 days/nights a year and accepts drug-free couples or single parents with children, couples in long-standing relationships, and single women who have been residents of York County for at least 60 days.
How can you help?
Bell Bridge Housing is a rehabilitative housing program which allows a longer-term option (up to one year for qualified candidates), providing more time for homeless families to hone basic living skills, getting them on track for successful independent living.
Qualifying participants must meet the definition of homelessness, have an income, not require a drug/alcohol treatment program or been convicted of a violent crime, and demonstrate a desire to accomplish goals they establish working with staff.
Individualized support services include budget counseling that encourages debt payment and savings, educational workshops, and referral services to other community agencies.
The Bridge Housing program utilizes eight apartment units in York City and two single room occupancy units on the third floor of Bell Family Shelter.
The Bell Bridge Housing Program is funded through the Department of Public Welfare/Housing Assistance Program to assist homeless families of York County in establishing permanent housing. The Bridge Children’s Program also receives funding from the United Way of York County.
Bell’s Possibilities program is designed to empower young mothers with at-risk children to transcend previous life situations and circumstances and transition successfully into stable, permanent housing.
While living in one of the four York City apartments, participants will receive guidance in parenting, budgeting, and employment. Through individualized supports, families will be instilled with the vision and ability to transform their lives.
How does a family qualify?
The York County office of Children, Youth, and Families pre-screens families for participation in the program. Each family unit is headed by a young mothers whose children have been identified as at-risk.
How is Possibilities funded?
Funding to renovate the property on Philadelphia Street in downtown York, which housed Bell offices and programs until 1998, was provided through a grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
Operations will be supported through York County Children, Youth, and Families, and community donations.
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In partnership with York County Children, Youth & Families, the program will be managed as part of Bell’s shelter services department, with a full-time case manager on-site.
Questions about the Possiblities program may be directed to De’Elzer O’Conner, program coordinator at 717-845-9536.