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Diversion Housing - continued

Renaissance Social Services has opened a new housing program. Through a partnership with Trilogy Behavioral Healthcare, Renaissance has opened its new Diversion Housing program: temporary housing to people with serious mental illness (SMI) to divert them from ending up either being warehoused in nursing homes or winding up homeless on the streets. The program is made up of 11 apartment units, 10 of which are currently occupied, and 4 Renaissance staff members on site. Annually, the program will house at least 50 people who will each move on to permanent supportive housing when such units become available.

We asked Wendy Russell, Lead Case Manager for the program, to share with us the ins and outs of the Diversion Housing program. She explains that the individuals participating in the program can be found anywhere like nursing homes or hospitals. It is Trilogy’s roll to assess the individual’s eligibility for the program, and the Renaissance team takes it from there. The Renaissance team ensures each individual or family is set up with their own temporary apartment unit for 90 days, including necessities like appliances, dishes, personal items, etc. During the temporary housing period our staff connects them to various resources in the community as well as routinely performing wellness checks. However, our job does not end after the 90-day temporary housing. The team also manages the process of transitioning every program participant into permanent housing and the Case Managers continue to provide services to the participants even once they have permanent housing.

The majority of individuals participating in this Diversion Program are chronically homeless. This means they have experienced homelessness for at least a year — or repeatedly — while struggling with a disabling condition such as a serious mental illness. The team at Renaissance has the unique opportunity of being staffed on site, in the apartment complex where the program participants are living. This allows our staff to develop a close relationship with participants. Wendy shares that the staff being on site makes it easier to perform wellness checks on the individuals because the staff is typically making in-person contact with them every day or every other day. This ability to connect on a personal level gives staff the capability of identifying unusual behavior, different symptoms, or signs of declining behavioral health, and address them as needed.

Wendy makes it clear that Renaissance’s role in the program is not only to house individuals but to be there for them, teach them how to be independent and live on their own. Program participants are typically struggling with various issues and in all different stages of processing the changes that they are going through. Wendy believes that the unique experience that participants receive in this program has motivated her, and other staff, to constantly be researching, learning better strategies, and ways to understand the program participants.

Renaissance is extremely grateful for all our dedicated staff that are making this program work for the people who need it the most.

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