Homelessness and Mental Illness: When Home is the Key to Success
“Keep your head up. Keep pushing on. Know your resources.” These are the tips Mike Lynch gave me when I asked what it takes to move from homelessness to home. Whatever the circumstances, everyone could benefit from that advice.
Mike is a resident at Aeon’s Alliance Apartments in downtown Minneapolis. It offers affordable apartment homes for formerly homeless adults. The Alliance offers onsite case management and supportive services provided by RS Eden. He moved into the Alliance about a year ago, and he’s been sober for two years.
Mike lives with mental illness; he was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia in 2009. Around that time, he had moved back to Minneapolis to live with his aunt to look for a job. When his aunt lost her home to foreclosure, he had no place to go for help. He turned to emergency hospital services and the Department of Human Services.
“Keep your head up. Keep pushing on. Know your resources.”Mike Lynch
“I needed to get help to cope with my hallucinations,” he told me. “It’s a burden [to live with schizophrenia]. But, now, I’m able to get the support I need.”
According to Wilder Research’s Homeless in Minnesota 2012 Study, 60% of homeless adults in the study reported three primary barriers to securing stable housing: 1) lack of job or income, 2) red flag for background check, and 3) lack of affordable housing. In addition, homeless service providers noted that the following prevailing issues homeless adults face and require assistance to help them re-enter the main stream. And nearly all study participants reported at least one of these housing barriers:
- Unemployed currently (76%)
- Have been homeless before (68%)
- Serious mental illness (55%)
- Criminal history (50%)
- Homeless for at least a year (50%)
- Could only pay less than $200/month for rent (36%)
Mike is a high school graduate and has completed course work in computers at a tech school. To achieve sobriety, he completed a three-month recovery program through the Bill Kelly House. He stayed at Cabrini Partnership, a transitional housing and support program, until he found an apartment at the Alliance.
When success is all about resources, for Mike, The Alliance is the place to call home.
“I’m walking distance from the bus, store, library and medical center. We have a computer resource room on site. I love that. And I volunteer six hours a week [in the computer center] helping residents with technology,” he said. “The community is friendly; there are always people coming and going.”
For home to be a success for formerly homeless adults, access to life stabilizing resources are key. And all of us, need the help of a community to succeed.
Sustainability and Affordable Housing