Addressing Chronic Homelessness, One Person At A Time
As an emergency homeless shelter, New Horizons offers those who are temporarily homeless a place to stay while they work to get back on their feet and into long-term housing. Unfortunately, many chronically homeless people use New Horizons as a long term, or even permanent, residence. Even worse, many chronically homeless people refuse to come to a shelter and end up living “on the street.”
In an effort to better address the issues of chronic homelessness, New Horizons has begun participating in the Housing First program. Case workers look for the most vulnerable homeless people, those at real risk of dying on the streets. These people are then placed in private apartments where the rent is paid by New Horizons, and supportive services are made available to them. Currently, through a grant from the City of Manchester, we have three formerly homeless people enrolled in the program.
The Housing First program has been successful in several cities at eliminating chronic homelessness. In many cases, when a formerly homeless person is provided with basic shelter, they can begin to make the changes needed to become more self-sufficient.
Helping Those In Need Reduces Community Expenses Overall
With the implementation of the Housing First program, community costs are greatly reduced in helping these chronically homeless individuals. A chronically homeless person typically has regular contact with emergency rooms, ambulances, police, and homeless shelters. These contacts are greatly reduced when a person is off the street in a stable living situation. Even with the cost of rent, we have found that placing a person in the Housing First program reduces community costs by as much as 75% in just a six-month period.
A Housing First resident
Maurice fought his battles against a chronic medical condition and substance abuse on Manchester’s streets. His struggles made it nearly impossible to keep stable housing. Chronic back issues rendered him unable to work and mounting medical expenses drained him financially which led to him becoming a New Horizons shelter resident.
Maurice’s bad fortune snowballed. After having to leave his West side apartment and move into New Horizons, due to depleted savings, his mail was not forwarded correctly causing him to miss an important medical appointment. Due to this missed appointment his medical insurance was cancelled. Maurice spent months, along with his New Horizons case worker, fighting to get his medical insurance back. Recently, he has gotten his coverage back and is looking forward to his next doctor’s appointment. He hopes to have another back surgery soon to help alleviate his chronic back pain.
During his most recent, and second stay at New Horizons, he was a resident for four months before being selected to participate in our Housing First program. He loves living in his own apartment, “It beats walking on the streets all day” he says. “When you are outside all day there is nowhere to go. It’s hard to be out there all day when it’s raining or snowing. Not many places want you to go inside.”
Maurice hopes to get a job one day after his back pain returns to a manageable level.