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The COVID-19 disaster is having a detrimental impact on the ability of homeless individuals with mental illness to find a safe place to shelter following stabilization and discharge from inpatient crisis psychiatric treatment.
Representative Garnet Coleman proposed utilizing an existing state Healthy Community Collaborations grant to enable three local organizations to provide transition shelter and supporting services for homeless people who have mental illness. The Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD, UTHealth Harris County Psychiatric Center and Open Door Mission will join forces to open a 24-hour facility with 28 beds.
"The pandemic has highlighted why many public health programs are needed including transitional housing," said Representative Coleman. "However, when we do beat this we cannot forget that these public health programs are still vital to normal everyday life even if they are not getting the attention they deserve."
Trained staff members from The Harris Center will provide services in a supportive environment with biological, psychological, and social interventions targeted at the individual's current crisis while facilitating community reintegration. During the resident's stay, individual and group skills training will be provided based on the needs of the individual and the goals of their individual crisis plans.
"This collaboration opportunity is immediately available because of the foresight, leadership and advocacy of Rep. Garnet Coleman," said Wayne Young, CEO of The Harris Center. "His support secured Healthy Community Collaborative grant funds for Harris County which are being focused on this pressing need in our community."
Open Door Mission will provide the shelter beds, food, and other services required to safely house participants during their time in the program.
"This partnership is unique to Houston and it is designed to keep the homeless behavioral health population in Houston safe and protected in an insecure time," said CEO of Open Door Mission Tommy Thompson. "Thanks to Representative Coleman's initiative and support, the Mission is now able to bring to fruition a yearlong effort involving the three organizations. We will be able to concentrate our combined resources to provide a safe environment for those who need it most."
UTHealth HCPC patients experiencing homelessness will be linked to the UTHealth Homeless Outpatient Mental Health Expansion Services Program, funded by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Trauma-informed, integrated behavioral health services will assist in the post-discharge transition of patients to Open Door Mission to improve patient outcomes. SSI/SSDI Outreach, Access, and Recovery case management, linkage to supported employment, and housing assessments and navigation through HUD's Coordinated Access will all combine to improve long-term patient success.
"This innovative and collaborative project will provide a safe housing option to some of our most vulnerable patients at a critical time when these services are in very short supply," said Steve Glazier, COO of the UTHealth Harris County Psychiatric Center.
This partnership will provide appropriate supervision and assistance in a non-stressful environment, help the individual maintain residence in the community and prevent unnecessary re-hospitalization.
Garnet F. Coleman has served the people of District 147 in the Texas House of Representatives continuously since 1991. Throughout his years of service, Representative Coleman has earned a reputation as a criminal Justice leader in the areas of health care, economic development and education. He is currently the Senior ranking member of the Public Health Committee as well as the Chairman of the County Affairs Committee.
The Harris Center is the state-designated Local Mental Health Authority and Local Intellectual and Developmental Disability (IDD) Authority serving Harris County, Texas. As the largest behavioral and developmental disability care center in Texas, The Harris Center provided care to over 79,000 people in fiscal year 2019. Learn more at TheHarrisCenter.org.
Open Door Mission is dedicated to transforming the lives of the most severely addicted, destitute, homeless and disabled men in our community. Visit Open Door Mission online at OpenDoorHouston.org.
Established in 1972 by The University of Texas System Board of Regents, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) is Houston's Health University and Texas' resource for health care education, innovation, scientific discovery and excellence in patient care.
Harris County now has a new resource to help keep people with mental illness out of the Harris County Jail. The new Judge Ed Emmett Mental Health Diversion Center provides law enforcement with a community-based alternative for persons with mental illness who have been picked up for low-level, non-violent offenses such as trespass. The Diversion Center celebrated its ribbon-cutting and dedication October 1, 2018 at 9 a.m.
HOUSTON, October 1, 2020 – The COVID-19 pandemic revealed the vulnerability of individuals who are homeless and have mental illnesses. It is not only the unhealthy conditions on the streets that make the unsheltered homeless “at-risk” to COVID-19; most suffer from underlying, chronic health conditions. An estimated 15-25% of individuals experiencing homelessness throughout Harris County and the greater Houston area suffer from severe mental health issues making it difficult for city, county and local partners to quickly assist and house them out of harm’s way. Social distancing requirements have also reduced homeless shelter capacity. These extremely acute individuals have a large impact on first responders and hospitals by routinely requiring emergency intervention. These individuals increase the risk of COVID-19 exposure to first responders and the community
As The Harris Center’s crisis division, the Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program (CPEP) provides services to individuals in Harris County experiencing a mental health crisis. From its 24-hour Crisis Line to its internationally-recognized collaborations with law enforcement, the CPEP is constantly working to reach those who need help.
Every October, National Disability Employment Awareness Month raises awareness about disability employment issues and celebrates the many varied contributions of America’s workers with disabilities. This year’s theme is “The Right Talent, Right Now.” As part of this month’s activities, The Harris Center is highlighting our recent summer internship collaboration with the H.E.A.R.T. Program.For many individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), finding jobs out in the “real world” may not always come easy. As part of The Harris Center’s commitment to transform the lives of people with IDD, the agency recently collaborated with the H.E.A.R.T. Program to provide summer internships to individuals with IDD to allow them the opportunity to gain hands-on work experience across our agency’s various programs.
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The Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD strives to provide high quality, efficient, and cost effective services so that persons with mental disabilities may live with dignity as fully functioning, participating, and contributing members of our community, regardless of their ability to pay based on a sliding scale rate schedule.
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