Doing 3 pop up social service projects in 3 weeks to address the Corona Virus and related economic disruption on our unsheltered neighbors has led us to document our model and refine best practices to meet our no barrier to entry non coercive interventions. Here is one I am proud of and has shown good promise. I fixed my autocorrect errors and added more detail then the first version.


EMTC (Empty See)


EMTC is a brand-new best practice to manage Pop Up Crisis Shelters and Safe Camps effectively, efficiently and with maximum impact to combat the intense disruption of the COCVID-19 pandemic and related economic disruption on individuals and families with multiple barriers. Therapeutic Communities were created for institutional treatment programs in corrections settings. Their key element is The Community is the Method of Change. Other useful aspects include the use of peer leadership, a phased approach of growth and development with clear markers of advancement and social correction. In our EMTC our levels are Guest, Volunteer Resident, and Staff in Shelter Settings and in Camp settings: Refugee, Camper, Volunteer & Staff (Campground House, Camp Counselor, Artist in Residence & Super Volunteers).

Social Correction – When an individual engages in words or behavior that is not helpful or in line with program objections other members of the group say: “Out of Care and Concern…” and add the constructive feedback. Recipients of the feedback are not allowed to defend themselves or argue but must simply say: “Thank you for the social awareness”, absorb the feedback as best they can and try to do better.

Downside – In a coercive prison system many former participants have a negative view of the model. At CoMoCrisisCenter.Com we will refer to our model as EMTC with the above mnemonic to highlight we are not supporting residency in the shelter but as a Center to address barriers and issues, with collaborative guidance to develop a plan to manage their issues and move quickly to self-sufficiency.

MTC – Another downside is individuals with co-occurring mental health disorders do not benefit from the TC approach and substance use disorders and mental health issues are almost always co-occurring. MTC addresses some of the deficiencies in the model by eliminating harsh confrontation and replacing it with carefrontration. Reducing the length of groups but still maintaining a mandatory structured schedule of education and counseling. The key element remains: The Community is the Method of Change.

EMTC – was developed on day 8 of community spread in CoMo to refine the organic processes developed on the fly for the Pop Up Shelter imbedded within a social safety net extended stay hotel which already housed many at risk individuals, the working poor, homeless and near homeless folks, recently released ex-offenders and individuals in active substance use that makes up the clientele of whichever is the lowest price hotel in a community.

EMTC highlights The Community is the Method of Change approach but is entirely voluntary and self-directed. There are no barriers to entry because of the critical need to access handwashing and disease management education to control the spread of the novel Corona virus. With a no barrier to entry approach immediate expulsion for placing the group at risk is critical. No permanent bans are appropriate as even the most problematic individuals and families need an opportunity to access the bare necessities of life and hygiene.

EMTC work through engaging individuals upfront and having as few rules as possible. All of those rules are posted, and the first step is orientation to those rules and winning a commitment to follow those rules or face immediate expulsion from the community. After a night out returnees are welcomed as new potential Guests or Refugees based on the community’s ability to take on new participants.

Learning social distancing, strict sanitation of surfaces, hand washing, and social distance is a challenge for everyone. Having a strong social awareness model is key to ensuring safe behavior and the community enforces its own norms and rules about maintaining a safe environment and managing scarce resources in a pandemic environment.

The Community is the Method of Change is key to modeling. Professional Leadership, Staff and Super Volunteers lead from the front engaging in all of the basic tasks like sanitizing portapotties and “show not tell” program participants how to engage in the community well. Everyone is open to feedback; everyone provides feedback to others.

The most extreme modification is the lack of a strict schedule. To be truly no barrier to entry participants must come to the program voluntarily and engage without any aspect of coercion. Individuals are their own best expert on what they need and what their schedule should be. As time and resources allow participants are encouraged but not required to address their issues with case management and other supports provided as available. The phased approach allows for a reward for proactive efforts to facilitate the project and gives everyone, regardless of their ability to help out and be a part of a productive community.

Circles replace group activities. Circles are socially distant small groups who sit or stand in a circle. Can be used for teaching, leadership development, mutual aid endeavors, and counseling for those with credentials and abilities to lead those. Recovery circles can function in a similar matter as AA, NA, etc. but with less structure in shorter durations based on the needs and abilities of those present.

The end goal is enhanced capacity, individual and family stability, community safety, permanent housing for those who wish it and individuals pursuing wellness and their own Happy Life Goals with encouragement and resources as available.

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