Housing First: Recovery focused and client driven
Every person has their own set of unique challenges, barriers, and needs when it comes to housing, and because of this, the 3rd and 4th components of Housing First include a) recovery focused supportive services and b) individualized client driven supports. These two pieces of housing first go hand in hand. Our services do not just stop with housing – we ultimately want to provide as many wraparound services that focus on improving individual wellbeing and needs.
Our staff utilize a concept called Harm Reduction in conjunction with Housing First. Since Housing First believes that people do not have to be sober or meet other pre-requisites to receive housing, those that Newcap serves may engage in risky behaviors during their time in our programs. These behaviors can range from driving without a valid drivers license to utilizing drugs and alcohol. Harm Reduction is when staff assist with putting protective factors in place aimed at reducing and mitigating the harm that one takes on when engaging in different risky behaviors. Protective factors are identified through the client staff partnership, based on the client’s specific and unique needs.
We often describe our staff as being the “hub” of resources and services for those within our programs. When looking at their needs and dreams, while taking harm reduction into consideration, we have to find specific services to assist in working on those needs and dreams. I often say that everyone we work with comes with different baggage – it comes in all different sizes, shapes, weights, colors, etc. When we case manage or provide coaching services, we tailor those services so it is individualized for that person as they all come with different “baggage” or needs. What works for one household may not work for the next. For example, some households may need minimal assistance once housed while others will need services of a longer more intensive duration to assist them in achieving long term stability and security.
One example of how Newcap practices recovery focused and client driven services is through our Certified Peer Support Specialist program. Housing program participants who are experiencing addiction or have a mental health diagnosis are offered the opportunity to work with a Certified Peer Support Specialist, someone who has lived experience and can provide specific recovery focused services. The relationship between a client and Peer Specialist is different than your typical case management relationship. It allows a more personal, peer to peer partnership between the staff and participant.
By Erika Villacrez, Co-Housing Director