Edited by Raymond Thomas
MapQuest. Google. Siri. The world has made great strides in technology and at the touch of a button you can use your GPS-enabled device to direct you to almost any destination. Wouldn’t it be great if human service providers could incorporate this same principle to guide their low-income clients to the resources and services needed to enhance their quality of living? Baltimore’s Leading Innovation for a Green and Healthy Tomorrow (LIGHT) does not have GPS, but has devised an innovative application process that easily identifies clients and directs them to needed services for which they qualify.
LIGHT, the partnership and coordination branch of Baltimore Housing’s Division of Green and Healthy Sustainable Homes, is a year-long program offered in conjunction with the Baltimore Housing and Community Development. The purpose of the program is to modernize the way providers serve families by improving the accessibility of the application process for programs and to improve coordination across programs. In previous years, clients who received weatherization assistance were never linked to partner centers for screening to see if additional benefits and services were available to them.
The LIGHT approach is innovative in that it provides wrap around services that improve organizational processes to ensure maximum client benefit and increases the client’s ability to move towards self-sufficiency. Case coordinators through the LIGHT Program screen clients for comprehensive health, energy, safety, and financial needs and provide case management services to help clients access available services they need to become more stable and safe in their homes. The LIGHT Program works internally within Baltimore Housing to better streamline and integrate resources and externally with public, non-profit and private partners to collaboratively coordinate resources to more holistically meet clients’ needs.
LIGHT has been successful through the below partners and contributions that have allowed clients to see their way into a more sustainable lifestyle:
- Baltimore Housing and Community Development– provides an in-home assessment of multifaceted health and housing needs to eligible residents.
- The Office of Energy Conservation Services– helps low income households with the installation of energy conservation materials and products to help lower utility bills.
- The Fuel Fund of Maryland– developed Watt Watcher of Maryland to assist residents with increasingly high utility bills to reduce energy consumption and save money.
- HealthCare Access Maryland– helps residents enroll in public health care coverage and navigate the health care system.
In FY 2012, LIGHT served 773 clients throughout Baltimore City. CSBG was integral to the success of this effort, supporting workshops and providing for one-on-one counseling with clients to ensure they received the connective services offered by the Community Action Agency.
Source: 2013 CSBG IS Survey