Our Homeless Prevention Efforts Continue to Lead the Way

December 2nd, 2008
HPRP specialist Marianne Deschaine watches Freddie Harris, who had been homeless, sign a lease

Because of its prominent reputation for best practices in its homeless prevention programs, Southwest Counseling Solutions has been selected to help lead three different initiatives that will further advance efforts to address homelessness in Detroit.

First, Southwest Counseling Solutions (SWCS) is one of 43 agencies in the country chosen by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to receive grants to help chronically homeless individuals and families. The grant is for $400,000 disbursed over five years. It targets our supportive housing program that provides quality housing combined with intensive support services and resources to enable individuals and families to stabilize their lives and reintegrate into the community.

“The SAMHSA grant is a measure of how our supportive housing program is regarded as one of the most effective and innovative in the nation,” said Joseph Tardella, executive director of SWCS.

Second, SWCS’ Housing Resource Center has been selected to serve as the centralized intake office to process applications for Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP) funds made available through the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHA).

Strict criteria have been put in place to guide the application, eligibility and disbursement requirements of the state HPRP funds to facilitate an orderly process. All applicants must secure a referral from a designated agency. Once the applications are reviewed, individual interviews are scheduled with those who may be eligible to fully assess whether they qualify for aid. No walk-in interviews are accepted.

The HPRP program is intended to serve as temporary financial assistance for low-income families and individuals at risk of becoming homeless or who have become homeless, but who stand a good chance of sustaining stable housing with short-term help to pay rent and utilities. The program is funded for two years and is expected to serve about 500 households.

Lastly, the Journal of Dual Diagnosis will publish a scholarly study in its forthcoming issue co-authored by Southwest staff members Brian Dates and Felecia Bennett-Clark. The article examines the adaptation of the Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) model to treat homeless individuals who have serious mental illness and addictive disorders. This psychiatric rehabilitative model was first developed 30 years ago, but was not intended for homeless populations. SWCS operates an ACT team that serves homeless persons. Like all SWCS programs, the ACT program is evaluated according to evidence-based best practices.

“The article creates a national professional forum for Southwest to demonstrate the effectiveness of our programming,” said Brian Dates, director of education and research at Southwest Solutions. “In addition, it affirms Southwest’s capacity to conduct rigorous evaluations and outcome measures, which are increasingly used by funders and stakeholders to assess programs and hold them accountable.”

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