Rick VanStory Resource Center
Projects in Assistance for Transition from Homeless (PATH) Program
In an average week, an estimated 637,000 adults are homeless in America. Of these, about 20 - 25% have serious mental illnesses.
The national PATH Program is administered by the Center for Mental Health Services, a component of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), one of eight Public Health Service agencies within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The PATH Program was authorized by the Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Amendments Act of 1990. PATH services are for people with serious mental illness, including those with co-occurring substance use disorders, who are experiencing homelessness or at risk of becoming homeless. PATH services include community-based outreach, mental health, substance abuse, case management and other support services, as well as a limited set of housing services.
The mission of the Rick VanStory Resource Center (RVRC) is to promote recovery, quality of life, advocacy, education, and mutual support, through peer directed services, for individuals with mental illnesses, addictions, or co-occurring diagnoses throughout the state of Delaware.
Our services are to search out homeless individuals and individuals suffering from either mental illness and/or co-occurring disorders and engaging them in appropriate treatment with a focus on placement in permanent housing for the purpose of gaining independence and self-sufficiency, as appropriate, and putting an end to homelessness for this population.
PATH Proposed Strategy
We operate under the premise that effective outreach may take time, patience and persistence. Successful outreach requires building relationships of trust with individuals who have lost faith in and/or are not reached by existing agencies and service providers. Outreach workers must meet clients where the clients are. They must accept the client’s timetable for opening up and move slowly, even in brief encounters, to allow a relationship to develop gradually. Many homeless people are suspicious of interventions because of negative experiences in the past with public or not-for-profit social service agencies or medical providers, inadequate access to health care, histories of emotional and physical abuse, prior criminal convictions, chemical dependency, and mental illness. The Importance of patience and perseverance in engaging homeless clients cannot be overstated.
Outreach workers will seek out homeless persons wherever they are located between the hours of 6:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. in all three (3) counties (New Castle, Kent and Sussex) with offices located in New Castle and Kent Counties. Outreach workers will be assigned to a specific location within each county. We intend to utilize outreach workers to visit well known and less known “hang outs” such as train stations, public squares, public streets, and bridge overpasses, wooded areas that serve as camps, train arches, etc. that provide shelter to locate and engage homeless individuals Our planned outreach efforts employ a variety of methods including the utilization of mobile units and fixed locations. Our outreach workers will assist these individuals to link with more specialized service providers, and as appropriate, provide services directly.
High Levels of engagement
We believe the initial contact may very well serve as the basis for which a consumer perceives a sense of hope and utilize this basis to develop an on-going system of engagement eventually leading to a higher level of engagement. A successful first encounter by an outreach worker might involve engaging a homeless individual in a brief conversation. While outreach can take considerable time, it is the initial and single most critical step in connecting or reconnecting homeless individuals to needed services or treatment. We aim to utilize the outreach initial contacts as a means to provide information to homeless individuals on the various types of available services and to collect data to determine the individuals’ needs. We intend to equip our outreach workers with laptops which will enable outreach workers to collect data and to provide an opportunity for personnel to access the Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) to ensure the provision of efficient services.
In Conclusion, RVRC urges all interested persons to assist us in accomplishing our goal of ending homelessness. We request your assistance to work with RVRC as a stakeholder, volunteer or peer helper to accomplish shared goals to end homelessness for mentally ill and co-occurring disorder individuals and homelessness overall in the State of Delaware.