Supportive Housing Wins National Award For Excellence In Innovation

March 2nd, 2009
From Southwest Solutions: (left to right) Jamie Ebaugh, Kathy Gordon, Meghan Buslepp, Monica Geldres, Theresa Paruszkiewicz, Lisa Todd, Joseph Tardella

SWCS is being honored for its development of Supportive Housing Services, a successful and innovative program that provides permanent supportive housing to homeless and disadvantaged individuals in Detroit who also live with a psychiatric disability. The award includes a $10,000 grant sponsored by Wiley, Inc. and Mental Health Weekly.

“Southwest Counseling Solutions has made a significant contribution to the lives of many and sets an example of a truly innovative and caring program in this field,” said Valerie A. Canady, editor of Mental Health Weekly. “It is an honor to recognize and support their achievements.”

Over the past four years, SWCS has helped 400 chronically homeless persons and families obtain permanent housing. During the past year alone, its Supportive Housing program served 300 individuals, half of whom had been chronically homeless and about 40% of whom had a coexisting substance abuse disorder. With 217 active Supportive Housing clients and an 85% success rate in keeping tenants housed for a year or more, the program is the area’s largest and most effective housing provider to the homeless.

“We are honored to receive this prestigious award,” said Joseph Tardella, executive director of SWCS. “Our supportive housing program for homeless persons and families represents an extremely successful partnership between the counseling and housing operations of Southwest Solutions. It is where our best individual and collective accomplishments and commitment to best practices are on full display for the benefit of those we serve. The National Council award is a tribute to our staff’s teamwork and pursuit of excellence.”

“Homelessness is a significant problem in our community, but we firmly believe that it can be solved,’ said Monica Geldres, director of the Supportive Housing program. “By providing the proper supports and good housing, we enable individuals to move off the streets and contribute to the community.”

In 2006, the Homeless Action Network of Detroit (HAND) asked SWCS to serve as lead agency for the MSHDA-sponsored chronic homelessness and at-risk youth initiatives. In a show of confidence by HAND, Detroit-Wayne County Community Mental Health, Housing and Urban Development, and Michigan State Housing Development Authority, SWCS became one of the first agencies to be responsible for vouchers and supportive services. The Supportive Housing Services program now has a budget of more than $6 million, two-thirds of which is available as rental assistance.

The National Council Awards of Excellence recognize mental health and addictions treatment providers, like SWCS, who are implementing innovative and effective partnerships and programs to serve their communities. SWCS received its award at the 2009 National Council Annual Conference in San Antonio, Texas.

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