Supportive Housing Program
We Support Our Community Through Housing
The supportive housing program that we administer for HUD provides housing for individuals who are chronically homeless who also have a mental illness.
Currently we administer two different supportive housing programs in partnership with Open Doors Homeless Coalition that are HUD funded. One provides housing for individuals who are chronically homeless and also have a disability. For us the disability is severe mental illness, although many have physical illness as well. Chronically homeless means someone is homeless for a year or more or having at least 4 episodes of homelessness in the last 3 years. The 8 people in this program were literally living in places not meant for human habitation for over one year. Today they are housed, seeking medical care, trying to find jobs and have become part of society. Case management for program participants assists with reaching goals toward independent living, such as receiving disability benefits, health care or obtaining a job.
When someone is placed into the program, it is in a one-bedroom apartment in Harrison County. Since they typically do not have much in the way of belongings, we fill their apartment with furniture. This furniture may be donated or if we have the funds, we purchase from area furniture stores who are able to work with us on a lower price. Cupboards and the refrigerator are filled with food, dishes, silverware, towels, toiletries, cleaning supplies and small appliances like a toaster and vacuum are supplied.
The other is Rapid RE-Housing for individuals with a diagnosed mental illness who are homeless. This is shorter term with the person leading the way toward their goals with our case managers guidance.
The transition process can be very stressful for people coming from the streets. Most are able to adjust quite quickly. They are then eager to find activities and jobs to keep them busy and help them to become self reliant. A huge part of the transition is reconnecting to family. A support system makes a huge difference. Once someone regains confidence of a roof over their head, they begin to
MHASM uses a Housing First philosophy to get people housed. Housing First is an approach that centers on providing homeless people with housing quickly and then providing services as needed. What differentiates a Housing First approach from other strategies is that there is an immediate and primary focus on helping individuals and families quickly access and sustain permanent housing. This approach has the benefit of being consistent with what most people experiencing homelessness want and seek help to achieve. Housing First programs share critical elements:
- There is a focus on helping individuals and families access and sustain rental housing as quickly as possible and the housing is not time-limited;
- A variety of services are delivered primarily following a housing placement to promote housing stability and individual well-being;
- Such services are time-limited or long-term depending upon individual need; and
- Housing is not contingent on compliance with services – instead, participants must comply with a standard lease agreement and are provided with the services and supports that are necessary to help them do so successfully.
A Housing First approach rests on the belief that helping people access and sustain permanent, affordable housing should be the central goal of our work with people experiencing homelessness. By providing housing assistance, case management and supportive services responsive to individual or family needs (time-limited or long-term) after an individual or family is housed, communities can significantly reduce the time people experience homelessness and prevent further episodes of homelessness. A central tenet of the Housing First approach is that social services to enhance individual and family well-being can be more effective when people are in their own home. (http://www.endhomelessness.org/library/entry/what-is-housing-first)
One of our HUD Supportive Housing participants recently purchased her own home! When introduced to us, she had been homeless for over a year. She had developed a mental illness after experiencing a life changing trauma. As you can imagine, she was timid and very worried about becoming homeless again. Through support she received from Nicole, Supportive Housing Case Manager, she was empowered to move forward in her recovery. Connection to consistent mental health services gave her more confidence. After working two jobs and saving some money, she is now living independently and is doing very well emotionally. Congratulations!