Approximately 33% of the homeless population in America are individuals living with serious mental illness.
Stable housing is critical not only because it provides a roof over members' heads, but also because it offers members new ways to gain independence and learn important life skills.
Telecare's Sonoma ACT Team has been providing mental health services in Sonoma County for 10 years—and for the past three years, has been running an innovative housing project with HUD and Sonoma Housing Authority.
What makes this housing project special?
The four-plex apartment building offers affordable housing to eight ACT members.
“This has been a great model for making a real difference in our members' recovery,” said Alice Jean "AJ" Rylaarsdam, Administrator. “Members often say it's the best housing they've ever had—it really is this community of recovery and support for each other.”
“By providing a stable, supported living situation with other ACT members, our members have created a community of kindness, friendship and mutual support in all aspects of recovery and daily living,” AJ said. “We're very proud of our program here at Sonoma ACT.”
Another cooperative housing project will be opening soon. This will be in coordination with a behavioral health program which will run a 12-bed board and care. All 12 residents will be men transitioning from out of county locked facilities, back into the community and will become members of the ACT program to support their success.
The ACT team recently received the following accolade from the family of one of its members.
Dear Board Members and County Administrators:
The Ernst family wishes to express its deepest appreciation to Telecare Santa Rosa, for the excellent care they have provided our family member, Ben, the past three years. We fully realize Ben has been a taxing client for more than 30 years, and his care has involved many of the county's best efforts to assist him while he went from relapse to relapse.
I am not wise enough to fully understand why his placement with Telecare proved to be the successful one, but I can personally testify that he felt he was a partner in planning a better future for himself during his intake interview when Alice Jean "AJ" Rylaarsdam, Program Administrator, kindly asked him how the program might help him in his recovery. From there, he was placed in a newly remodeled duplex, with a very compatible roommate, and was able to have his medications delivered to him. Ben knew he had 24-hour access to staff and fully agreed to follow the program's client-centered rules.
This Recovery-Centered Clinical System (RCCS) works for our son. He still battles with his delusions, but has made full use of the psychological counselling offered by Telecare. For the last year, Ben has been volunteering at the food pantry adjoining his church and has a perfect record in showing up on time every week. He has profited much from this work and is proud to give back to the county that has given him so much.
Ben frequently expresses the wish that his friends who are still living in board and care situations could find placement with Telecare. He is certain their lives would be improved by the high quality staff and encouraging program offerings. It is our hope that that greater numbers can be accepted in the future. Meanwhile, we thank God and the Sonoma County Behavioral Health Administrators operating under the leadership of Mike Kennedy for continuing to fund this amazing program.