The Center for Respite Care has a newly-launched permanent housing program (Respite Permanent Housing or RPH)that provides scattered-site placements for clients with disabilities. Fourteen of twenty available slots have currently been filled with clients that are working with our case manager and/or housing counselor to become self-sufficient.
Once clients obtain employment or Supplemental Security Income or Social Security Disability Income (SSI/SSDI), they transition off the program. Along the way, they are taught skills in budgeting, basic daily living (cleaning, cooking, bus transportation, etc.), and life skills.
I sat down with Kathy Miller, our Housing Coordinator, to get a behind-the-scenes look at life on the front lines of RPH.
Q: So, why is there a need for the services you provide? Let’s start with housing.
A: Well, the clients in my program are disabled. The majority are unable to work, have applied for SSI or SSDI, or are looking for employment. This isn’t a permanent housing program: our primary goal is self-sufficiency.
Q: Ok, and as far as social service needs, what kinds of skills do you teach?
A: We cover basic daily living skills including budgeting, making a grocery list, and using public transportation. Our funds and resources are limited, but we do devote a case manager or housing coordinator to each client to help them develop a case management plan.
Q: I think a lot of our readers will wonder why an adult would need to learn these skills. Can you explain?
A: Our clients have different histories, but many have always depended on someone else to take care of them, so their skills are limited. It may have been a parent early on and later a spouse. Some have been homeless for so long that they forgot those skills, or the world has simply changed to the point where they need to relearn them.”
Q: What are some other barriers clients face?
A: Communication is a big issue. Clients are often isolated from family and friends for so long that they lose communication skills. There’s a different level of slang and communication on the streets than there is in other parts of society.
Our housing team is an indefatigable duo (as in just two!) that take care of all these services for our clients. They select appropriate clients from Respite, recruit understanding landlords, oversee the distribution of donated furniture and kitchen supplies, organize moving days, make follow-up visits, case plans, and everything in between.