A Turning Point shelter bed.

By Scarlett Yingvorapant, Communications Manager at The People Concern

Everyone should be housed, healthy and safe.

But for many, ending homelessness is not simply about finding a home. It is about being comfortable in that home, maintaining that home, and having the tools and support to rebuild your life.

There are individuals experiencing homelessness who struggle with mental illness, substance addiction, acute and chronic medical conditions, histories of trauma, or a combination of these issues. In the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority Homeless Count for 2018, 26% reported a serious mental illness, 15% reported a substance use disorder, 10% reported both substance use disorder and serious mental illness, and 6% of people report experiencing homelessness because they are fleeing domestic/intimate partner violence.

However, these findings are self-reported by those surveyed. At The People Concern, in our work on the streets and in our various programs, we find that more than 90% of the people served by our agency are living with serious mental illness or co-occurring disorders, many are struggling to overcome substance use, and most have experienced personal trauma. These individuals are the men and women who need intervention and care, and we engage them with our coordinated, integrated services. This is why The People Concern provides a holistic, integrated system of care for all of our program participants, often the most vulnerable neighbors in our community.

Without stable housing, these conditions can worsen. Experiencing homelessness can exacerbate mental illness, make ending substance use difficult, and prevent serious health conditions from being addressed.

Although finding affordable housing is part of the answer, individuals with multiple challenges will need assistance in maintaining that housing.  Supportive housing, the integration of affordable housing with wraparound services to help individuals and families remain stably housed, provides the needed assistance that our most vulnerable neighbors can utilize to rebuild their lives. The supportive services might include mental health or substance abuse treatment, primary healthcare, domestic violence services, employment, assistance with paying rent or bills on time, transportation, or connection to meaningful daily activities through volunteering or other community service

Supportive housing gives people the opportunity to thrive in a safe environment while receiving guidance on choices that promote better health and well-being, stability, a sense of belonging to a larger community and self-sufficiency. We have found that 98% of individuals we provide with wraparound services are able to maintain their housing and thrive. You can be part of ending homelessness by advocating for the development of permanent supportive housing in your neighborhoods. It’s good for everyone in the community to have people living indoors – housed, healthy and safe.

 

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