Hope Week – Homelessness

Homelessness is a devastating experience that significantly impacts the health and well-being of adults and children. Every year hundreds of thousands of American families become homeless. Homelessness is most often caused by the combined effects of lack of affordable housing, unemployment, limited access to resources and supports, health and mental health challenges, and experiences of violence, physical and sexual and abuse.

People living in shelters or on the streets often face isolation and stigmatization and may prioritize safety and sustenance over chronic health concerns. The experience of homelessness causes health problems, exacerbates existing illnesses, and seriously complicates treatment and continuity of care.  People without homes are generally sicker than their housed counterparts and, because of restricted access to health care, are three to four times more likely to die prematurely. Surveys show that anywhere from 30-60% of the homeless has a mental health diagnosis, with 25% having a severe mental illness and 50% reporting with a dual diagnosis of mental illness and addiction. Over 92% of homeless mothers have experienced severe physical and/or sexual abuse during their lifetime. 62% report that this abuse was perpetrated by an intimate partner.

Whether made homeless by economic hardships, fighting in a war, the trauma of domestic violence, or physical or emotional challenges, these families have lost more than their homes. They have lost their health, safety and the capacity to support themselves or their families. To build a life they need support.

San Luis Valley Behavioral Health Group (SLVBHG) has offices throughout the Valley and over 40 staff clinically trained to work with adults and families that have mental health, substance abuse or trauma related issues. SLVBHG also has an outreach program designed for those that are homeless and suffer from a severe and persistent mental illness. The Program to Assist in the Transition from Homelessness (PATH) is a program funded to assist people who are at risk of being homeless or those that are currently homeless (shelter, couch hopping, getting out of jail etc.) that are dealing with a mental illness or have behavioral health issues. Goals of the program are to stabilize housing and facilitate self-sufficiency. This may include locating affordable and stable housing, referring to other services i.e., mental health counseling, substance abuse treatment, physical health care, education, and applying for Medicaid or other benefits.

PATH case managers work very closely with local agencies like La Puente to link individuals to needed behavioral health services and they also help individuals apply for benefits and find employment. The people who work in these programs are dedicated and committed to making a difference and the impact of these services has been broad and life changing for individuals and families. They reach out to individuals, provide them with services and give them hope that their lives can improve.

If you have questions about our services please give us a call at719-589-3671 or check out our website www.slvbhg.org.

Clarissa Woodworth, MA., CAC III  Development Director, SLVBHG