Menlo Park-based InnVision Shelter Network unveils new brand

Homeless services nonprofit to be called LifeMoves

After a year in the works, a new name and brand for InnVision Shelter Network, the Menlo Park-based homeless services nonprofit, was announced Jan. 26.

The organization will continue its same services, providing shelters and resources for people facing homelessness from Daly City to San Jose, but under a new "LifeMoves" brand, said Amy Wright, LifeMoves vice president of development.

The name change comes about three and a half years after a merger of two nonprofits, InnVision and the Shelter Network, that left a lengthy title in its wake.

The idea behind the new name is that the organization facilitates "life moves," or major life transitions, for its clients by offering them support in a number of different categories: housing, career, finance, education and health.

LifeMoves helps clients make housing "moves" with housing search assistance and direct help with first and last month rent payments; career "moves" with resume prep, interview training, and employment search assistance; and financial "moves" with financial literacy education.

The nonprofit supports learning "moves" with programs such as legal assistance, conflict resolution, parenting skills training, and support in seeking high school completion or higher education.

Health "moves" are facilitated with mental and physical support and counseling.

Kids get a wide range of services too, including homework support, art therapy, anti-bullying workshops, and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) programs offered by volunteers. There's a Stanford-themed room for teens full of board games.

Jacob Stone, general manager of the Haven Family House in Menlo Park, said there are teens who live at the family shelter who run into each other at Menlo-Atherton High School. Group meetings for teens help them understand they're not the only one experiencing homelessness.

Each family receives a case manager who works to help tenants get out of whatever situation they're in, Stone said.

"There's no one size fits all," said Bruce Ives, CEO of LifeMoves.

Haven House provides housing for 23 families and a range of additional services. The organization has family shelters across San Mateo and Santa Clara counties. Thirty-nine families live in a San Mateo facility, nine in Redwood City, and soon, 15 families will be accommodated at a location under renovation in Daly City. Two other facilities in San Jose offer interim shelter for up to 110 women and children total, and another serves family fire victims in San Jose. Six other shelters offer interim and stabilization shelter for single adults.

Haven House offers four closets, or, more aptly rooms, stuffed with items that tenants can access: food, clothes, housewares, and toys for the children. Laundry facilities are available for a small fee. Parents are allowed to pick gifts from the toy closet for their own kids, but so are kids who are invited to go to friends' birthday parties.

"No one wants to be the only kid at a birthday party who doesn't bring a gift," Ives said.

All amenities and rent are free, but in exchange, tenants are asked to save at least 50 percent of their income, Ives said. On average, people stay at the facility for 165 days and leave with about $2,000 in savings, he said.

About half of the people at the Haven Family House, Stone said, are veterans or families.

Ligala is one of those veterans, who moved into the Haven Family House with her 9-year-old son, Daniel, in September. He's now attending Belle Haven School, which his mom says Daniel loves. She's plastered the bedroom wall with his homework assignments, each emblazoned with a blue star.

She says he wants to play football at Stanford, but she isn't sure she likes that idea. Between job and apartment searching, attending workshops and group meetings, she said, "we keep busy."

Still, she said, the search for housing is frustrating. She's waiting to hear back about several "below market rate" housing opportunities, and is hoping to land a place where Daniel can stay in the same school. But she also has broadened her search for affordable housing as far as Sacramento.

Helping people find affordable housing, Ives said, has increasingly involved widening the search radius. Still, he said, the program has a 97 percent success rate in helping families find permanent affordable housing, and an 82 percent success rate for individuals.

Ives said Haven House is seeing a growing number of clients who are senior citizens and people living on fixed incomes who cannot meet the demands of higher rent.

The entire LifeMoves organization attracts 36,000 volunteers each year to help out, he said. There are couple of reasons, he said, for such large-scale support. First, he said, the infrastructure of the organization gives volunteers efficient, productive ways to give back. Second, he said, "I think when volunteers see how hard our clients are working, it's motivating. It takes a village to get people housed."

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12 people like this
Posted by Jeremy
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 26, 2016 at 2:49 pm

This is one of the most impressive facilities I have ever seen. Their child care rooms brought tears to my eyes when I saw all the little children being so lovingly cared for by amazing volunteers while their parents worked or attended classes.
If you are downsizing or just clearing out seasonal closets this is a wonderful place to donate. Each family being transitioned into their new independent living homes is given a full supply of items to begin their lives again. And some nice clothes to wear to their job interview.
Everything donated goes directly to the people who need it most.

1 person likes this
Posted by Supporter
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 26, 2016 at 7:19 pm

Congrats to a wonderful agency on the new name. Grateful for the leadership of CEO Bruce Ives and the dedication of the staff who serve the community.

2 people like this
Posted by RealBay
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 12, 2016 at 11:28 pm

Haven is a success story for LifesMoves (Innvision Shelter Network), and it's success rate may overshadow other family shelters in LifeMoves like Maple or First Step for Families. What is the success rate, let's say at First Step for Families that has single mothers/fathers or one adult families not making it into permanent housing and have to be let go compared to families with two or three adults successfully transitioning into permanent housing?

Again on the success rates, how many stay in permanent housing after lease of 3, 6, or 12 months has expired? How many return to Innvision/LifeMoves after 60 or 90 days of living elsewhere, or how many times do they return in 1, 2, 4 years, and does this impact the success rate or the total head counts of number of people served since inception, particular years, or in a year?

Successfully ending homelessness means that individual/family is not being pushed out to permanent housing with first and last month payments, and makes it the middle month with $2000 savings. 4th month lease may end, then moves into another shelter, motel, or back to LifeMoves/Innvision.

1 person likes this
Posted by Ree
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 29, 2016 at 1:38 am

Very disappointed in the choice of this "New Name" of "life Moves"! It doesn't come close to describing the amazing success that InnVision Shelter network has achieved over the years nor does it indicate the goals in any way! Just Google " Life Moves & see what comes up?

Like this comment
Posted by IVSNfan
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 29, 2016 at 10:06 pm

I agree with you Ree. The name is already for many organizations. It is out of touch. LifeMoves sounds good on a flyer than to be a name of an established non-profit formerly known as InnVision Shelter Network.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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