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Homeless in CNY: Mental health and transitioning into permanent housing

There's a difficulty of transitioning the homeless into permanent housing while also dealing with mental health issues.

Posted: Oct 10, 2019 5:48 PM
Updated: Oct 10, 2019 5:58 PM

Larry Hajdasz works in Homeless Outreach Services for the Municipal Housing Authority. He’s trying to make connections with the homeless population so that they might take advantage of the services available to them, but one of the obstacles he faces is the homeless individuals with mental health issues.

"A lot of the people that I work with don’t seem to have the ability to meet life’s obligations, and what I mean by that is keeping appointments. Particularly when I ask them to come in to my office to further pursue getting them off the street."

West Street Apartment Manager Jaime Crowe takes in many of the homeless coming from the Rescue Mission. She knows when you’re on the street, priorities change.

"If you’re homeless and you’re on the street. Where am I going to sleep tonight? Where am I going tonight? Where am I going to eat? So going to treatment, going to appointments…that’s on the back burner, because you got to eat before you’re worried about making an appointment."

United Way’s CEO/Executive Director Erin Matt has been meeting for months with a number of agencies involved in solving the homeless problem. Mental Health Services is playing an important role.

"Mental Health is just as if not more important than housing because to surround someone with the support that they need, to address and mental health issues or concerns, again becomes kind of a key pillar in helping someone be functioning and to keep them safe."

Scott Imundl was once homeless himself and knows first-hand how vigilant you have to be when you’re homeless.

"It’s certainly dangerous out here. They shouldn’t be out on the street because the gang-bangers. They could hurt them, kill them, you know there’s all kinds of things, and it’s not good for them to be out here like that."

Jaime Crowe explains why getting someone with mental health issues off the street and into a suitable living environment can be a vicious cycle.

"Someone might be homeless 4 times in a year because they go into an apartment, they don’t pay their rent because you know they had an episode, or they struggle, and then they’re back out on the street, and back into the shelter, and then it’s the same circle over and over again. So that stabilization piece is really important to maintain, and the support that they maintain their housing."

There is something we can all do to help solve the mental health and homeless problems. The United Way is looking for donations aimed at helping homeless people, so they can get back into a productive lifestyle, and out of make-shift shelters.

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