New Permanent Supportive Housing Opens in Akron (Part 2)

By: Katie Sobiech

New Permanent Supportive Housing

Previously, we shared about the opening of The Commons at Madeline Park, a brand-new, 60 unit, Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) facility for the homeless, mentally ill, disabled, and veterans.

According to experts in this area, PSH may be the best new route to go in terms of housing people facing these particular circumstances.

Supportive housing programs have been shown to increase housing stability, assist persons to maintain employment, improve mental and physical health, complete schooling, and reduce active substance use.  And some studies have even found supportive housing to significantly reduce public costs. (www.cssbh.org)

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Holistic Environment

Sue Pierson, Director of Info Line Inc., shared the benefits of this “new way” and its holistic approach.

Keith Stahl, Director of Residential Services at Community Support Services (CSS), agrees with Pierson, saying PSH is a tremendous help to those needing assistance.

“We’re really looking at it as a holistic environment. We’re trying to help people overcome barriers that they have in their life and give them the opportunity to pursue the dreams that they may not have had a chance to pursue,” Stahl shared.

“Whether that be pursuing a job or having their own place to live, whatever it is, we are striving to help them meet their goals so they can live, work in the community and have greater opportunity,” Stahl continued.

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Free Will

This type of housing offers a permanent place to stay for those struggling, plus additional services.

Mental health services are provided by CSS, but they aren’t pushed.

“Services are voluntary – we don’t mandate services. They’re available to help you for the rest of your life,” Stahl said.

And there’s been quite an interest in them.

“Pretty much everyone has been interested so far,” Stahl said.

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Mental Illness & Homelessness

The truth is, mental illness and homelessness often go hand-in-hand.

Mental illness causes many individuals to become homeless. So this is where CSS and other service providers step in to help these individuals address their psychological needs.

“It’s predominant. Not everyone who’s homeless is mentally ill, but you see it very commonly amongst the homeless population. And it might be in varying degrees – some people are more symptomatic than others, but it really is one of the root causes of many people who are homeless,” Stahl explained.

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Better Outcomes

“By engaging the individual, helping them, offering them services, getting them into housing, you’re more likely to have better mental and physical health outcomes,” Stahl shared.

In general CSS serves individuals with mental illness alone, but they also have a homeless outreach team.

They often work with individuals who have faced prolonged periods of homelessness as well as homeless veterans.

“We see the need of the homeless population on a daily basis and what it takes to help them get out and stay out of homelessness.  And that’s what we’re really committed to doing,” Stahl said.

“We have experience and a good track record with serving individuals that have really struggled and believe we can help them out of that predicament,” Stahl continued.

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Hope

Fortunately this creates a light at the end of the tunnel for many.

Those who put their time and energy into this project hope to see these individuals flourish. And maybe even move on someday.

“We don’t want people to feel trapped. They can move out of the building and still maintain a housing subsidy so that they can go into a more traditional type apartment,” Stahl said.

“I doubt a whole lot of people would want to do that though. The quality of these apartments far surpasses any housing you’re going to find,” Stahl continued.

And this community of healing is continuing to grow.

A second, 60-unit building will be built adjacent to the first building, creating a campus-like feeling for the tenants. The Commons at Madeline Park II is currently scheduled to open in 2016, with a ground breaking scheduled for 2015. This facility will also feature a greenhouse (www.cssbh.org).

For more information you can find them on Facebook under “The Commons at Madeline Park II” , or call (330) 928-1988.

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