there are usually preconditions for most housing and homelessness programs,
such as sobriety, WPIC’s homeless program acknowledges the difficulties in
becoming clean or seeking mental health treatment without first having a roof
over your head.
philosophy is not only housing, but offering parallel services to address
mental health concerns, too,” says Gnesda.
These parallel services are referred to as a blended service approach.
homeless program started in the late 1990s and has since provided more than 250
housing arrangements (primarily apartments) throughout Allegheny County, to
homeless families and individuals who live with serious and persistent mental
illnesses. Referrals come from Allegheny County, local shelter staff,
clinicians, and outpatient programs, and then a blended service coordinator
(BSC) discusses the program with qualified individuals.
finding apartments for homeless individuals and families, the WPIC team asks
those families where they are most comfortable in Alleghany County or where
they grew up. From there, WPIC looks for housing in that area.
also provides permanent housing for 14 chronically homeless men in the Penn
Hills neighborhood of Pittsburgh, at the Safe Haven home. The house includes a
bedroom for each resident, a communal kitchen and living area, garden and even
the resident homeless program dog, Ziggy.
is the first time these men have had housing in more than a year,” said Gnesda.
“It’s amazing to see these men adjust to a life that’s not outside.”
placement, residents meet weekly with the BSC who links individuals and
families to all forms of mainstream services ranging from substance abuse
support to food banks.
for the program comes from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
(HUD), which provides federal leasing dollars used as rental subsidies to
provide homes for those in need. Thus
far, WPIC’s homelessness program has exceeded all of HUD’s benchmarks for how
participants are doing, based on factors such as the number of previously
homeless individuals who now have jobs.
program has been a model for participants remaining in the program and ending
the cycle of homelessness by providing mental health treatment.
Labels: homeless, Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic of UPMC