Pathways emergency aid and housing assistance programs.

Short term, emergency shelter or housing from Pathways is combined with other services, including free food and clothing. However, the main goal of the Jefferson County based non-profit agency is to rehouse clients into safe and affordable homes and apartments as well as provide them with self-sufficiency.

Many of the resources are administered at the Day Center located in downtown Birmingham. The programs administered at the site provide clothing, free food, access to showers and laundry facilities along with case management that many people need to transition to a self-reliant path. Information on their services can also be obtained.

Through the Pathways Day Center in Birmingham, any homeless woman or child who visits is offered things to meet their basic needs for survival. Included in this are free hot meals, showers, applications to government benefits, access to laundry facilities and clothing. Case Management, substance abuse treatment and mental health care are also essential aspects to helping these chronically homeless women transition to a more stable and safe life. Once women receive services that meet their individual needs, they are oftentimes candidates for transitional housing programs. These women need special support or they risk remaining homeless for very long periods of time.

Transitional shelters provided by Pathways have multiple locations for people to access. They are located downtown, Southside and in Woodlawn. The low income apartments are available up to a year for those families who need space and time to work on their credit or to find a job, and they give people time to maintain a steady, consistent income.

Having affordable, proper housing is the key to leading homeless individuals to a place of safety and security. The non-profit agency works throughout Jefferson County to provide short term and long term transitional housing for both women and children, including single parents.

For any chronically homeless women struggling with mental illness, there is a Safe Haven program which offers them a more homelike, intimate environment to make them feel secure. Social service and case management services are also available for them. Safe Haven is the only program of its kind in the state of Alabama.




Establishing life plans for women is a key step in leading them to a path of independence and self-reliance. Life and employment skills are taught to these clients, including computer skills, budgeting money, teaching interview skills and how to work professionally in a business environment. Case managers from Pathways assist with the creation of life plans in order for women to identify their individual needs to achieve self-sufficiency. Child care, transportation and job searches are also provided to the clients.

In order to prevent homelessness from spreading throughout Alabama to struggling families, there is a focus placed on homeless children with respect to teaching them proper decision making skills. Teachers and staff also touch upon character education and anger management.

The Safe Haven Program provided by Pathways focuses on chronically homeless women living with substance abuse or mental health issues. Affordable housing and apartments are located downtown and they will also have an intimate and homey environment that makes the women feel like they are in a safe place.

The resources also all operate with 24 hour staffing and case management. Residents of Pathways are not required to participate in mental health or substance abuse services that are offered, however, the ultimate goal is to meet their individual needs and allow them to trust the system in order to get to a more stable, healthy place in their lives.

At the end of this process, some residents will be able to move on to a permanent housing situation with the help of the services provided to them, and as part of this, they can explore financial aid programs such as funds for security deposits or rent.

The Transitional Shelter through Pathways provides single moms, women, and children with support, shelter, food and clothing to meet their basic needs in a safe environment. Goals and life plans are established to create structure and hope for their futures. The individual's progress throughout the service will be discussed weekly with an assigned social worker who guides them through and provides access to various community resources. The services provided on site include managing money through budgeting, promoting healthy relationships, and accessing parenting skills.





Teaching homeless women in Jefferson County how to transition to a future with stable housing and security includes providing them with job skills to obtain and maintain steady employment. The Pathways Employment Readiness Programs is designed to meet that goal. With each session offered by the staff, key elements such as motivation, career counseling and teaching basic computer and job skills are taught to the women.

The companion program for their children called Learning to Be a Kid teaches these homeless children about their own self-esteem, various emotions and healthy conflict resolution in order to break the pervasive cycle of homelessness in these families. Topics that are taught and focused on include attitude, self-esteem, anger management, goals for the future and kindness. The workshops and classes operate and depends greatly on volunteers and support from the Junior League of Birmingham.

Both budgeting and maintaining finances are critical aspects to avoiding a homeless situation in the future for these women. Financial literacy is offered to all females and children in the shelter and to those residing in other local housing programs in Birmingham. Necessary financial tools, techniques and steps are taught including saving, budgeting and insurance.

Teaching is done in a simple and easy to follow manner to ensure the clients implement them once leaving the Pathways program. While clients do receive free advice from the social workers, this program is a more in-depth and detailed version.

For more information on Pathways, the address is 409 Richard Arrington Jr Blvd N, Birmingham, Alabama, 35203-3308. Call the non-profit at (205) 322-6854.




By Jon McNamara

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