Simple in design our Homeless in-Reach program (HIR) strives to assist those most resistant to accepting help. As described above, the HIR program strives to achieve these outcomes:
- Establish familiarity and build trust with homeless seniors
- Provide a safe space where they can shower, get clean clothes and a meal
- Connect them with a social worker who can obtain the full spectrum of entitlements for which they are eligible
- Assess participants’ need for medical and mental health services
- Reconnect homeless seniors with supportive networks of family and friends
- Work with them to determine the most appropriate housing options, whether permanent, transitional, shelter-based or a shared living arrangement.
It is important to remember that making meaningful inroads with this population requires patience, perseverance and ongoing one-to-one contact. Many of these individuals suffer from undiagnosed mental illness which greatly complicates their ability to secure housing of any sort. Many are also resistant to accepting service due to previous encounters with social services. As a result, the Homeless In-Reach Program is extremely labor-intensive, and progress is measured in small increments. A notable success has been the placement of more than 50% of the long-term homeless individuals (4 plus years participation in HIR) in permanent, temporary and shelter based housing. The development of long term trust-based relationships works as a trigger for change and the support provided by HIR was essential in enabling these participants to make the transition to housing.