Many of you know that at the Butte CAA Esplanade House we help families break the cycle of homelessness and poverty – but what does that actually look like? Our Esplanade House is one of a kind in the services we offer and the community we’ve built. The residents, staff and community members have seen and continue to see the incredible work and concrete results for 30 years now.
The Program Philosophy
One of the beautiful things about our Esplanade House is the universal commitment to our mission. Residents and staff alike agree that “If you work the program, the program will work.”
But what is the program? It’s a combination of resources, education, and housing. One of our current residents, Amanda, speaks highly of the program and what it’s done for her and her family. She remembers a time before her recovery where our Esplanade House would seem like an overwhelming commitment, but when she made the decision to change her life, she saw it as an amazing opportunity.
“I would say some people come into this maybe thinking like there's all these rules. They have, when you get to the one side it's not like a free ride, but in some respects, they are really trying to get you back on your feet. There are rules to follow here and they're very simple, basic rules…
They want you living this normal, structured life…and I don't feel like it's asking too much of people. They want you checking in with them, they want you communicating. It's very simple. And if you want it [recovery], it doesn't seem like a lot to ask of you for this to work.”
Our Senior Case Manager, Brooke, highlights the fact that this is one of the only programs of its kind. Our Butte CAA Esplanade House focuses on including children in the recovery process to break that generational cycle of poverty, homelessness, and addiction.
“To me, it just breaks my heart that we're only a 60-unit complex.”
Our residents come to us through a variety of different avenues, but the most common ones are a voluntary application, usually inspired by a desire to reunite with their families while others may be court mandated to enroll. We welcome all our residents to our Esplanade House with the same level of support and hope so they can make the most of their second chance at a fresh start.
Phases of the Program
Each of our residents have a unique journey and begin at different points in their individual recovery. Upon coming to our Esplanade House, families are placed in a housing unit along with bedding, clothing, and food. There are two phases in the program that are specific to what the families need at that point in the process.
The first phase focuses on housing and provides the family with time to stabilize their physical and emotional needs. Being homeless and potentially separated can cause trauma and the families need time to begin healing their minds and bodies. During this phase, they pay into a personal trust fund to prepare for emergencies and when they move into permanent housing. This phase includes:
- Weekly meetings with a case manager
- Counseling for addiction recovery, domestic violence, or other core issues that need to be addressed
- Learning organizational skills that help navigate social services, probation, credit companies and legal/financial entities
- Case management assignments for cleaning up debt, court dates, reinstatement of driver’s license, probation, and other important mandates for recovery
- Accessing work training programs or working towards a GED and higher education.
- Classes on good parenting and “Life Skills 101” (balancing check books, proper nutrition, job preparedness etc.)
The second phase prepares residents for re-entry into the community. During this time their case management meetings are reduced, but residents reserve the ability to utilize services that were available in Phase I. This phase includes:
- Biweekly or monthly meetings with a case manager
- Families move to apartments on the west side of the property
- Clients are expected to be enrolled in school and/or employed
- They pay rent and their own utility bills
- They save money in their trust fund to prepare for exiting the program
- Phase II duration is also 12 - 18 months
Residents stay a year or possibly a year and a half in Phase I before transferring to Phase II where they may be for another year and a half. Diana Bradley, our Program Specialist, describes it this way:
“You spend a significant amount of time with these families and watching children grow and you really do become a protector for them. You want to make sure that they get a fair deal and that they know what's ahead of them when they go out to the permanent housing.”
The Esplanade House Facility
It may not be the fanciest facility, but we have everything we need. Our Esplanade House grounds include living apartments, a playground, daycare center, learning center and administrative offices.
We make it so our residents have the resources they need close by. For example, if they are taking a finance course, they can walk across a parking lot to get to their class. We have daycare so they are able to focus on themselves and work but don’t have to manage the financial and logistical hardship of childcare while they are getting back on their feet.
“We literally can walk across the parking lot to an office full of people who are, open-armed willing to help us and have thousands upon thousands of resources and knowledge to give us, it's a great program. And only just help us but give us a place to live. Like I got my credit back, I got a bank account, a million things, not just a roof over our head, all that,” said our resident Amanda.
Being a family focused program, the playground is a really popular feature for our staff and residents. We host a lot of events outside and we have volunteer programs specifically to support the children. It is a natural place to make memories and have some fun!
On a more professional note, we also have a computer lab and administrative offices when business needs to get done. By having our offices and facilities centralized we can be more efficient in our day-to-day operations while also creating a spirit of community.
People don’t completely change their lives overnight, so we have a long-term and holistic program that supports both the entire family and the individual members. We have services for every area these families may need to help them address barriers to transitioning from our program successfully.
“There’re resources here that you would not know about. I don't feel like you would know about or even know to question about if you weren't here. I mean, a lot of people here come from addiction and come from a certain background, you're not going to just run out and start asking people where you can get help,” says Amanda.
Our Esplanade House has an on-site licensed drug and alcohol counseling program, case management (for both adults and children), as well as groups and classes. Topics range from parenting to financial literacy to healthy relationship dynamics.
Off-site services are also accessed and part of each household's service plan, including behavioral health counseling, drug court, and any other appropriate community services which enhance the adult’s recovery and ability to become self-sufficient.
“Residents can obtain their GED, increase their credit score, and purchase a home and have really good jobs when they leave here. We've had those successes. We've had people in the last six years that I've been here buy homes. They're now LVNs and doing really well because they've taken suggestion and have run with it,” said Brooke, our Senior Case Manager.
Not only is our community one of accountability, it’s also one of fondness and care. This work isn’t just a day job for our staff, the families become a part of their lives as well. We care about their successes, we learn their stories, we see children grow up right before our eyes. It’s hard work, but it is the type you can believe in and know that someone’s life is going to be better for it.
Amanda had this to say, “My kids, well, my son, especially my nine-year-old loves it here… I don't know what we're going to do when we move out of here. Cause he's outside playing with all the neighbor kids every day. This is his family out here. So, every day really is kind of like, great. We have events; these people really are kind of like our family here. Everybody kind of takes care of everybody. Everything's good here.”
Donors have a special effect at our Esplanade House. Whereas many charity operations are large and cast a wide net of support, here it’s very specific. We have a small number of families that will each feel the effect of a kind gesture. Things like donated school supplies or family dinners.
“A lot of the big moments happen with the kiddos and our events that we do. There are movie nights, and we'd have camp outs. We have bounce houses and barbecues. We do bingo nights, and the kids win prizes, and we have a big annual all resident Christmas dinner. So those there's a lot of great memories that I have with all of those different events, just because it's a lot of fun and the kids love doing those kinds of events,” Diana, our program specialist remarked.
The movie nights are “drive in” and the kids get to make cardboard box cars and watch a movie with their parents on the lawn. The Christmas dinner is served by the staff of our Esplanade House and Santa makes a visit to the children. It’s a celebration of generosity, hope, and holiday magic that everyone looks forward to every year.
Why This Program
We’ve given you a breakdown of the concrete and tangible work that has been being done at our Esplanade House for the past 30 years. While the Community Action Agency of Butte County has incredible and dedicated professionals who have trained to do their job at the Esplanade House well, it’s more than that. Our work is sincerely, changing lives. And you don’t need to take only our word for it:
“Well it's changed me completely because it gave me a second chance. I don't know how I would've got back on my feet, honestly. How did I not have this opportunity? And I feel like when I leave here, I'll be like, I'm doing everything the right way at point. And I'm setting a good example for my kids. I would never, I honestly wouldn't be able to get back on my feet without this place,” said Amanda.
Every year we exceed national averages for transitional programs, and successfully move people back into the community as productive members of society. We are committed to evidence-based practices that effectively help families and tell the compelling stories of the hard work of participants to achieve life changes.We are committed to breaking the generational cycle of addiction, welfare dependency and poor education. Our program’s 2-generation approach gives families the absolute best chance to succeed and move towards self-sufficiency, because of the program structure, compassionate staff, and realistic timeframe we have developed for success. We have been creating hope and a future for children and their parents every day for 30 years.
With the ever-changing landscape of federal and state grant priorities, CAA Esplanade House is committed to finding local community partners to ensure that the programs and services can continue uninterrupted.
Your financial donations, donations of gifts and tangible items as well as volunteer service allow us to provide staffing for the programs and classes, as well as fund activities for the children, such as celebrating holidays and hosting after-school programs.
To help our program have as much support as possible, please consider donating using the link below.