Residency Beyond

After years of offering cause-based employment, we started to ask ourselves how we could offer some of the same benefits to people who we weren't employing to reach a greater number of people. Employment allows us to bring people into a work environment that's designed to provide benefits that go beyond the work, but it limits us to only being able to help a very small amount of people. Once Covid-19 restrictions hit, we started to systematize the practical education we offer to our employees into a consultation and guidance program we call Residency Beyond

Residency Beyond is a program for individuals who have successfully transitioned out of the foremost stage of homelessness (meaning participants have a job and sustainable housing) that want to take the next steps to build a permanently sustainable lifestyle. We'll be offering assessment, guidance, and resources to show participants what the path forward looks like to strengthen areas of need, such as in financial security, personal health, career mobility, contemporary job skills, communication, and goal-setting. Many people find themselves in a situation where they're getting by, but not in a way in which they can invest in personal/family security for the future. Our aim is to help people in this situation by providing practical education lessons, securing priority access to resources, and covering upfront costs. One example would be partnering with a counseling center to offer participants priority access to trauma therapy. Standard therapy can be very expensive, and low-cost therapy often takes months to get enrolled if you're even chosen at all. So in this way we could offer priority access and help cover cost alongside practical education. Other examples would be offering access to yoga, nutritional programs, and personal health management. We believe that in order to truly help someone transform their life, we have to approach change comprehensively by addressing all areas of potential need. 

The Beyond program will involve weekly check-ins and a 12-week practical course in our mindset principles that revolve around what we call "Comfort Field Theory". Over the last 12 years of working with those living on the streets or transitioning out of homelessness, we've noticed that those who can find community away from the streets are often the ones who successfully transition. However, community is just one of many factors that influence the trajectory of a person's life, including those who have never experienced homelessness. Our theory (which is taken from a variety of established psychological principles) is that our decisions in life are based on the pursuit of Comfort, or the avoidance of Discomfort, not necessarily on the pursuit of truth, health, and growth. When a person experiences trauma, their baseline of experience becomes much more uncomfortable and painful. As baseline discomfort goes up, a person's willpower and tolerance for introducing healthy discomfort into their life (such as self-discipline when it comes to self-care and exercise) go down. We call this a person's Comfort Field.

As a person becomes more addicted to comfort, they unconsciously design their environment/lifestyle to reinforce immediate gratification and avoid choices that would introduce healthy discomfort. Creating this kind of environment then in turn reinforces comfort-seeking, making smaller experiences of healthy discomfort feel even more uncomfortable. 
Our goal with Residency Beyond is to help participants become aware of how their decision-making, lifestyle, and behavior, may not be bringing them long-term health and growth. By becoming aware of one's choices, these patterns can be improved to promote greater overall wellbeing. These practical educational lessons will be paired with access to resources in a way that paints a picture of what permanent growth and sustainability will look like, and what will be required to get there. 

We hope to secure funding that will make it possible to cut upfront costs and establish priority access to resources so that these practical lessons can be lived out and experienced through a community of established professionals. In this way, we can act as guides and connectors to reach a much greater number of people while still offering employment as much as we can.