‘It’s not an easy life’ – The collision of homelessness and mental illness

They can’t control their mental health, so it takes control of them. It can cost them their jobs, if they still have them: Maybe they can’t shake the weight keeping them from getting to work, and their bosses don’t understand. Maybe they start treating their depression with alcohol or drugs, and then they don’t care.

Now without income, without money to pay rent, they end up on the streets or in a shelter — and even farther from the services and support they need to get stable.

It’s hard to think about getting better when you’re simply trying to survive the day.

In January, Lincoln, Nebraska’s homeless population was pegged at 451, less than half of what it was six years ago.

They largely credit the city’s full-bore embrace of the Housing First concept: Before anything else, give a home to those who need it most, regardless of their sobriety or diagnosis or cash flow or credit history or rental record.

And then give them help.

“We put a roof overhead and then we meet those other needs. And those are the two key words: And then we meet those other needs.”

“We’ve had so many that were so close to getting housed and they ended up dying on the streets. If we would have put a roof over their heads, we literally could have saved their lives.”

One Lincoln man living on the streets was getting homeless misdemeanors and battling his bipolar disorder.

“Once he was given a home, he was given the hope to follow up on therapy.”

He’s getting better. He’s going to start paying his own rent soon.

“The neat part of the story is how good he feels doing it. He feels successful. He feels accomplished.”

From the Lincoln Journal Star.

Read the full article here.

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