Barrier Busters Network
What is Barrier Busters?
Barrier Busters is a group of over 50 social service provider agencies that are committed to increasing communication and coordination between its member agencies, and improving services for Washtenaw County residents in need. Each member agency identifies at least one “Barrier Buster” who becomes the point of contact for their agency and facilitates collaborative case management between member agencies.
Member agencies also have access to the Barrier Busters Emergency Unmet Needs Fund, which is a collection of public and private funds that provides social workers, case managers, and other direct service providers with access to emergency assistance funds on behalf of their clients. This community fund provides agencies with a more efficient way to prevent evictions and utility shut-offs, and assist with other emergency costs that threaten Washtenaw County residents’ housing and financial stability.
Why is Barrier Busters Important?
With the Barrier Busters Emergency Unmet Needs fund available to so many agencies in the community, residents in need are able to work with their existing provider to access financial assistance.
Barrier Busters meet monthly and utilize an e-mail listserv to:
- Share program and agency information,
- Consult their peers on shared and/or difficult cases, and
- Educate one another about best practices and new strategies for addressing common barriers to service.
This often results in residents accessing multiple services – not just financial assistance – more quickly.
The Barrier Busters Network works with a local nonprofit payee service—B&B Payee Services—to process and distribute our payments. Utilizing this small, more nimble organization provides our community with the ability to request and distribute funding, if necessary, all in the same day.
By serving the residents that are most in need, Barrier Busters is preventing much more costly evictions, health emergencies and more—ultimately saving local governments, and therefore tax payers, money.
Barrier Busters work with each resident for whom they request financial assistance to ensure that the household will be able to sustain their housing and utilities after financial assistance is provided.
In an effort to be able to ensure that Barrier Busters support has a lasting impact for those served, we began a six-month evaluation of every financial request approved. Since we started this evaluation in November 2009, we have seen consistently positive outcomes for the households we assist:
- 78% are current on their rent payments
- 70% are current on their utility payments
For every dollar the County invests in Barrier Busters, we are able to leverage 3 additional dollars in emergency funding. These funds are critical to the community and to the providers that utilize them for Washtenaw County residents.