The challenge: Recognizing that in order to rehouse people experiencing homelessness and to end homelessness in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, a robust behavioral health component is crucial.
A solution: The Louisiana Chronically Homeless Assistance and Treatment Services (LaCHATS) One-Stop Homeless Services Center.
The LaCHATS One-Stop Homeless Services Center opened on November 10, 2011, under the umbrella of the Capital Area Alliance for the Homeless (CAAH). CAAH is a coalition of 35 service providers whose membership provides emergency shelter, transitional housing, and permanent supportive housing for people and families experiencing chronic homelessness and for people who experience a range of disabilities. The Center is one of the Baton Rouge Continuum of Care homeless service providers and a Cooperative Agreement to Benefit Homeless Individuals (CABHI)-States grantee.
The Center is a powerhouse of resources and services, providing a state-of-the-art facility that streamlines in one location the process of rehousing families and individuals who are experiencing homelessness. The Center offers services to 130 persons experiencing homelessness daily and provides a broad range of programs and services to address the barriers to housing. The creation of a one-stop Center was first proposed in Baton Rouge’s Ten-Year Plan to End Homelessness.
Multiple Service Providers in One Location
One feature that sets this project apart is the fact that it is founded on the collaborative efforts of multiple service providers who operate out of the LaCHATS One-Stop Homeless Services Center. The added appeal of the Center is its functionality as both a services center and a 36-unit apartment complex which provides permanent supportive housing for persons experiencing homelessness and who have disabilities.
The Center brings under one roof a number of programs, including:
- Day center/drop-in services (such as showers, laundry, and telephone and Internet access)
- Primary medical care
- Substance use and mental health services
- Legal services
- Mainstream resources enrollment
- Vocational rehabilitation and employment assistance
- Life skills training
- Housing First and rapid rehousing services
The Center was built as a therapeutic space, both architecturally and in terms of programs and ancillary services. Local artists are committed to further this therapeutic focus by using the Center to display art and offer art lessons. Creative writing classes are offered to clients to provide another medium for expressing their life experiences and individual talents. Volunteers also lead a weekly yoga class for clients.
The Center uses evidence-based practices and promising practices to support its work, including Housing First and a legal services program implemented on the SSI/SSDI Outreach, Access, and Recovery (SOAR) model.
Project staff feel that the Center’s greatest success is based on bringing together multiple service providers working in a coordinated and integrated way. When speaking about the distinctive elements of the project, staff relay their excitement about working with the Louisiana Housing Authority, using the state PSH program to rehouse CABHI grant clients who experience chronic homelessness. Project staff also note that their project is one of very few programs that represents supplemental security income (SSI) clients at the application, rather than at the appeal, level. This commitment to representing and assisting clients with the SSI application has resulted in an impressive 98 % success rate with SSI applications.
New Partnerships Complement Provider Network
The Center has helped staff develop new partnerships that complement their collaborations with their extensive service provider network. They have, for example, partnered with Our Lady of the Lake College of Nursing to become an internship placement for nursing students. Students in the community nursing class provide a real service while getting a unique community nursing experience. The Center has also negotiated with the Louisiana State University Law School for a legal clinic site for persons experiencing homelessness.
The project owes much of its success to the very hardworking staff and partners who continually look for creative solutions to the multiple barriers to housing that face persons who experience chronic homelessness. They believe that other projects may be able to learn from their experiences. One lesson they have learned is how to leverage a variety of resources and organizations, such as their umbrella organization, CAAH, for homeless service providers. The project staff believe that other communities may benefit as they have by establishing a model that is built on separate providers cooperatively delivering a wide range of integrated services—all under one roof.
This article was originally published as a Grantee Spotlight to highlight the April 2015 theme of Employment.
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