MHA has been a leader in providing creative and flexible services to address homelessness. MHA was the first agency in Western MA to bring specialized permanent housing resources to homeless individuals through the Shelter Plus Care model. MHA also introduced the highly successful Safe Havens model to the area. MHA has become an integral part of state and local plans to end homelessness by creating a continuum of care – from street outreach to preventive interventions to permanent housing.
Shelter Plus Care
This is a supported housing model that combines federal housing subsidies with state service funds to promote permanency and reduce the incidence of homelessness. Mental health outreach workers engage with participants in their homes and in the community. Support hours are typically during the day and early evening, focusing on activities of daily living.
Regional Engagement and Assessment Center & Housing (REACH) and Community Support Program for People Experiencing Chronic Homelessness (CSPECH)
These programs provide connections and evaluations for chronically homeless individuals not affiliated with other known community resources. They use the “housing first” model which establishes permanent affordable housing prior to service eligibility determination.
MHA operates a Safe Havens program in Westfield, MA for individuals who are unable to use generic homeless services due to their mental illness. This program operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
This program provides outreach support to foster successful community living for formerly incarcerated individuals who have mental illness and a history of homelessness.
Tenancy Preservation Program (TPP)
In 1998 MHA created the first TPP to serve individuals with lease/tenancy violations who are at risk of homelessness due to mental health issues. The goal is to preserve tenancy by working to remedy lease violations and develop interventions that help tenants retain their housing. The program works closely with Western MA Housing Courts, housing authorities, landlords and other stakeholders. TPP is used as a best practice in Massachusetts and other states.
Springfield has a street outreach team, which has professionals with substance abuse and mental health areas of expertise. The team interacts with homeless individuals, historically the most difficult to engage. The goals are to encourage individuals to accept assistance, whether it is blankets, medical care or housing.