WellSpace Health’s Behavioral Health programs have served the Sacramento region since 1953. We have over 60 years of experience identifying …Read More
Newest and Largest Permanent Supportive Housing Center Now Open
Sacramento – Everybody deserves to be seen. Five simple words that help describe the work of WellSpace Health. Five simple words that explain why WellSpace Health has grown to operate 31 centers across Sacramento, Placer, and Amador counties. Five simple words that have driven WellSpace Health, for three years, to partner with Mercy Housing on a new Permanent Supportive Housing program in North Highlands.
This new partnership brings 72 clients who were chronically homeless inside to a place they can call their own, forever. The apartments range in size from studios to two-bedrooms to help accommodate both individuals and families.
On any given night in Sacramento County, there are more than 5,000 people experiencing homelessness. These units add to 150 housing units already supported by the Flexible Case Management team in five housing programs. Like those in North Highlands, all of the residents are permanently housed after experiencing homelessness. The members of this team are dedicated to ensuring that their clients never have to be without a home again.
“At the end of July, we housed 72 people and that’s 72 who will no longer be homeless,” said Program Manager Marie Gamez. North Highlands is the latest development with apartments that range in sizes from studios to two-bedrooms for both families and individuals.
Flexible Case Management is part of WellSpace Health’s Behavioral Health Division and includes Intensive Case Management, like what is provided in North Highlands, as well as Emergency Department Navigators and the Triage-Transport-Treat (T3). T3 was developed to decrease the likelihood a patient would unnecessarily utilize area emergency rooms for non-urgent care. By triaging these patients and transporting them to an appropriate health center location, individuals can begin establishing routine health care. Once these steps are completed, treatment can shift toward case management to ensure other basic needs, such as housing, are addressed.
Thanks to longstanding partnerships with hospital systems, the WellSpace Health Flexible Case Management team can ensure the patient’s needs are met medically, physically, and emotionally.
The Permanent Supportive Housing program follows the “Housing First” model. Housing First is an approach to quickly and successfully connect individuals and families experiencing homelessness to permanent housing without preconditions or barriers to entry, such as sobriety, treatment, or service participation requirements. The goal of Permanent Supportive Housing that uses the Housing First model is to provide long-term housing stability, improved physical and behavioral health outcomes, and reduced use of crisis services. For every $1 spent on the program $10 is returned in savings for emergency room costs.
Comprehensive care that includes addressing additional vital signs, such as housing security and behavioral health, is one way that WellSpace Health shows that ‘Everybody deserves to be seen.’ As Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Jonathan Porteus puts it, “At this point, our clients and patients who are homeless may make up only a fraction of the overall population we serve, but they are ‘our people’ and we are here to serve each of them.”
Transitioning people who are chronically homeless from the street to housing is no easy feat. At any given time, case managers could spend hours, days, or weeks trying to locate lost social security cards, proof of income, past housing documentation, donations, virtually every vital form of identification needed to move into a new apartment.
Unfortunately, when the pandemic hit new challenges arose. “Everything was just a big obstacle to climb,” said Director of Flexible Case Management Leslie Parker. “Just getting a donation from somebody you know, you can’t go to their house and pick up stuff. It’s just been magic what [the team] has been pulling off.”
“There are a lot of challenges with us getting documentation,” said Gamez. “We had to go to the local Department of Human Assistance, reach out to schools and different areas just to see if people had copies of people’s identification cards and social security cards in order to get the documentation ready to complete a housing application.”
Once enrolled in the program, clients take part in a variety of services like life skill workshops, community engagement, gardening, leadership training, volunteer activities, and more. By offering more than housing, participants are set on a path to success. Some residents even graduate from the program by developing the skills and resources they will need to move out into the community on their own.
For more than a decade, the partnership between Mercy Housing and WellSpace Health has seen hundreds, if not thousands, of people, find their forever home. Many of the clients that enter the program are sick and have lived difficult lives. WellSpace Health is honored to be there providing compassionate and dignified care as long as it is needed.