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Homelessness and PATH

The Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (OhioMHAS) is committed to ensuring that an array of safe, decent and affordable housing options are available for Ohioans experiencing mental illness.

Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness (PATH)

PATH Services

The Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness (PATH) program offers services for people with serious mental illness (SMI), including those with co-occurring substance use disorders. who are experiencing homelessness or are at risk of becoming homeless.

Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness (PATH) is a formula grant administered by the Center for Mental Health Services, a component of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). PATH services are for people with serious mental illness, including those with co-occurring substance use disorders, who are experiencing homelessness or at imminent risk of becoming homeless. PATH services include community-based outreach, screening and diagnostic treatment services, habilitation and rehabilitation services, community mental health, substance use treatment, case management services, referrals for primary healthcare, job training, educational services, and limited housing services. There are currently 11 PATH programs operating across 13 counties:

Contact Information:

PATH Grant Management

SFY23 PATH Application


  • SOAR (SSI/SSDI Outreach, Access, and Recovery): SOAR Ohio helps move some of Ohio’s most vulnerable community members into better housing opportunities, through access to the Social Security benefits application process. SOAR Ohio provider specialists work on behalf of individuals who are living with disabilities, by representing the SSI/SSDI benefit application claim. This process is completed on behalf of individuals whom have a diagnosis of a severe and persistent mental illness and/or medical diagnosis and are currently experiencing homelessness, at risk of becoming homeless, or preparing to exit institutions. SOAR Ohio specialists assist by helping the individual expedite the federal Supplemental Security Income/Social Security Disability Insurance (SSI/SSDI) application process, to support the individual’s choice and access to safe, decent, affordable housing in their community. You can find more information here: https://cohhio.org/programs/soar-ohio/.

Homeless Resources

  • Community Action Agencies: Community Action Agencies work to alleviate poverty and empower low-income families in their communities. For over 55 years, CAA’s have provided the tools to help people move from poverty to self-sufficiency and they have done so at the local level ensuring the solutions work for local needs. You can find your  local Community Action Agency at this link: https://oacaa.org/agency-directory/
  • Continuum of Care (CoC) and Balance of State Continuum of Care (BoSCoC): The CoC and BoSCoC represent organizations in 88 counties that provide services to people experiencing homelessness. You can find more information for housing and homelessness resources at this link: https://cohhio.org/boscoc/
  • Homeless Shelter Resourceshttps://needs.relink.org/services/homeless-shelter-shelter-crisis?cid=37
  • Domestic Violence Shelter and Services Resourceshttps://www.odvn.org/find-help/
  • Affordable Rental Housing Locatorhttps://www.ohiohousinglocator.org/
  • County Behavioral Health Authorities: Ohio currently has 50 Alcohol, Drug Addiction, and Mental Health Boards that cover all 88 counties. The boards are tasked to plan, develop, fund, manage and evaluate community-based mental health and addiction services. Federal, state and local funds are utilized by local Boards as they work to ensure that mental health and addiction prevention, treatment, and recovery support services are available to individuals and families in communities throughout Ohio. You can reach your local behavioral health board at this link: http://www.oacbha.org/mappage.php

Provider Resources

Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio (COHHIO)

With a mission of ending homelessness and promoting affordable housing, the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio (COHHIO) is involved in a range of housing assistance services in Ohio, including homeless prevention, emergency shelters, transitional housing and permanent affordable housing with linkages to supportive services. COHHIO assists hundreds of housing organizations and homeless service providers in Ohio through public policy advocacy, training and technical assistance, research and public education.

Homeless and Housing Resource Center (HHRC)

HHRC is the central “hub” if easily accessible, no-cost training for health and housing professionals in evidence-based practices that contributes to housing stability, recovery, and an end to homelessness. HHRC works in partnership with national experts in homelessness, mental health and substance use services to develop up-to-date, comprehensive toolkits, webinars, and self -paced online trainings. You can find the link to the website here: Homelessness Programs and Resources | SAMHSA

Disaster Recovery and Emergency Preparedness

Spotlight on Homelessness in Ohio

The stories below help share the successes of the PATH program. Contributions to the stories come from PATH partners. Guidance and scheduling for partners is also below.

Spotlight Articles 2021

Summit County - January 2021
Community Support Services Homeless Outreach team first met A at Haven of Rest Ministries located in Akron. Upon first meeting the HO Team, A was extremely disorganized  and exhibited behaviors such as loud and abrupt laughing, inability to maintain personal hygiene, and frequent conversations with the ‘voices’ in his head. A was a poor historian and had no concept of how he ended up at the shelter, where he was living before, or what sort of treatment or agencies he has worked with in the past. A had lost all forms of personal identification and possessed only the clothes on his back. It was clear that A was suffering from persistent internal stimulation and needed mental health treatment, as well as assistance in getting required identification and housing resources.

The PATH team was enlisted the help of the shelter staff to engage A. Rapport took some time to build as A had trouble holding conversations in which any tangible information could be relayed. One of the most memorable experiences working with A was attending an appointment to apply for social security, only to find out that A had thousands of dollars in a bank account. It took multiple attempts to convey to A that he in fact had unused income and would be able to use this income toward housing. He responded, “I have money? I can buy my own whip?” Entirely disinterested in the money that would secure his future housing stability, A took every brochure out of every pamphlet holder, in the Social Security office, and proceeded to shove all of these in his pants for insulation. Meanwhile, The PATH team submitted group home referral for A due to the extreme disorganization he exhibited.

After two rounds of a long-acting injectable medication and a month or so of residential treatment, the improvement in his ability to communicate and function was extraordinary. A decided that he wanted to leave the group home and go back to his brother’s home to stay. His leaving residential treatment was worrisome for the PATH team as they were concerned about maintaining follow up appointments to secure permanent housing through the local housing authority. However, the PATH team and residential staff stepped back and allowed A the freedom to leave residential treatment, hoping he would follow up with his injection and housing appointments.

What happened next was truly a surprise and a testament to the efficacy of medication. A continued to check in with his PATH case manager on a weekly basis. On medication, he was able to gain insight into the nature of his mental illness, and remember all of his appointments and the steps he needed to take to secure his housing. 

In October 2020, A moved into his own apartment with a permanent subsidy that he will be able to maintain with his social security funds. When asked if he was in need of direct deposit to pay his rent on time, A stated that he would "rather do it myself, to get off my butt." A has paid his rent on time every month since moving in. A maintains his injection schedule and keeps his appointments with his case manager from Community Support Services. He clearly recognizes the importance of his injection as a way to keep himself stable and housed. A is proof to the power of client self-determination when working with a dedicated team that is committed to stabilizing individuals living with homelessness in the community.

Lucas County - May 2021

Eric Lorenzen, an outreach specialist at Toledo’s Neighborhood Properties, first met R in the summer of 2020, when Covid-19 was in full swing. R was living in downtown Toledo near the river; he was homeless due to a bed bug infestation at his previous residence which he ultimately chose to abandon after several unsuccessful attempts to rectify the situation with his landlord. This unplanned moved heightened the anxiety R was experiencing and worsened his overall mental health.

During this time, R’s brother, who had been living in a Neighborhood Properties unit, passed away suddenly. R spoke to Eric about the possibility of R keeping his brother’s apartment. Eric explained to R that a certain process needed to be followed to secure housing with the agency. But Eric could tell R needed help and Eric took this time to conduct R’s assessment. Eric enrolled R into PATH that day.

During this challenging time R lost contact with his mental health provider. R knew that he needed to get back on medication and re-engage with mental health services, but the pandemic made doing so very difficult. Eric, once made aware of the problem, scheduled R for an updated intake and assessment with a local mental health provider and Eric worked closely with R’s case manager.

With the assistance of 211 United Way, Eric was also able to get R off the streets and into St. Paul’s shelter while they worked on securing housing. This was a challenge for R at times; R worked 3rd shift at the Macomb Cookie factory, and he had a long arduous journey two-hour round trip each day by bus. Working 3rd shift means coming and going at odd hours of the day and night and R would mention to Eric how he felt like he was in “some kind of Zombieland” at times because of the younger crowd hanging out on the streets and using drugs and alcohol.  While at the Cookie Factory, R had been saving money to get his own market rent apartment until the Child Support Enforcement Agency garnished every penny. And suddenly his dreams of obtaining own housing were cut short.

R committee to securing better-paid employment. Eric conducted a housing assessment for him. Eric would take R to various appointments and Eric really enjoyed their time together; often talking about the bands that would come on the radio during the drive. They always found it surprising that their interests were so similar.

Since February 2021, R has his very own one-bedroom apartment through a Lucas Metropolitan Housing voucher he received. With Eric’s help, R utilized some public resources to furnish of his new apartment and beginning costs. R always stayed focused and connected and determined to better his life. He expressed to Eric that one day he hopes more than anything, to help his daughter who currently is incarcerated due to addiction and mental health issues of her own. R has come through some tough life experiences and Eric knows he will run into R one day and smile because of the leaps and bounds he has come since they met in the summer of 2020. There was a team of people that assisted in ending R’s homelessness and everyone working together is what made R successful today. (However, Eric is careful to point out that R’s efforts were the key factor in this success story. Through all his challenges R persevered and he now goes back to visit St. Paul’s shelter at times to show his appreciation for what he has been through.

Spotlight Articles 2020

January 2020

The Help Network of Northeast Ohio’s PATH team met R at a local food kitchen. R explained that he’d been sleeping in a local park for two months. He’d been evicted from his previous housing after a very brief stay. This was R’s fourth time being homeless since his release from prison a few years prior. Although, he describes himself as an optimistic guy, he told PATH the constant moving and fear of arrest was wearing on him. He’d been banned from local shelters due to repeat stays and infractions of their rules. He’d considered leaving the area but knew that his problems would not be solved in a new town. Instead, he decided he would reach out for help, a large step that he hadn’t been ready to make previously.

R struggled with substance use and mental health that he was afraid would keep him from maintaining employment. From the very start, R was determined to work so that he could find a place to live that would allow him have safe visits with his daughter and situations that jeopardize his sobriety. With gentle guidance and support from the PATH team, R enrolled in an outpatient program for alcohol use. He maintained his sobriety during his time with PATH, found steady employment, and still made time to check in with the team to see what his next steps were for housing.

Nearly three months after meeting with PATH, R found a reasonably priced apartment to rent. PATH paid the deposit and he was due to receive first month assistance through another agency in the area. When everything seemed to be set in stone, the company that owned the apartment liquidated and sold the residential buildings, and once again R was without a roof over his head. His optimism wounded, P wondered if he was simply meant to be homeless. Of course, the PATH team continued to advocate on his behalf, and it was able to get the deposit money returned just in time to sign with a new landlord. At last contact, R was settling into his new home and had even enjoyed a few visits with his daughter. He thanked the PATH team for its assistance, and PATH reminded P that it was his own hard work and persistence that carried him through and would continue to maintain his housing.

February 2020

D first came to the agency’s attention via a referral by the local homeless shelter after his parents dropped him off because they felt they were not equipped to handle his mental health issues appropriately.

Almost a full year of passed with D residing at the shelter before he would interact with the PATH team at all, despite their repeated attempts. His days consisted of leaning against the wall with his eyes closed or staring at the floor. He consistently ate out of dumpsters, despite being served 3 meals a day at the shelter. He experienced extreme anxiety and refused to eat in front of others. Eventually, a PATH homeless outreach worker reached was able to establish a rapport with D while at the shelter. D slowly opened up and became willing to meet with a psychiatrist.

He was hesitant about the medications but after several more months he began to work with his doctor.  He vacillated between meds and dosage multiple times, sporadically stopping with his meds or only agreeing to a dose that was likely too low to be therapeutic. D was assessed for a group home to which he reluctantly accepted placement. Early on at the group home, D would talk about leaving and returning to the shelter. D avoided interacting with the residents or staff as much as possible. He would only eat his meals in the kitchen after all the other residents were done. The group home staff were extremely patient with him and consistently worked with him on his social skills and empowered him by openly discussing his meds with him and providing feedback regarding his symptoms when he was medicated appropriately. He also started attending day treatment at the agency where he had regular contact with other clients and had the opportunity to discuss his illness. He, with help from PATH staff, obtained SSI and accepted “payeeship” help to manage his finances.

The group home where he resides has an apartment on the third floor that is usually assigned to the most senior resident as a trial run to living independently. D was recently offered the apartment but declined it because he said he likes living in closer proximity to the other residents. He has shown an amazing improvement with his social skills and has been on stable medications for the last year. He now has contact with his family, whom he had not talked to in years. His next steps will be to attempt independent living, with the support of his treatment team, when he feels he is ready.

May 2020

This month's PATH Spotlight may be found here.

September 2020

M and her six children had been living in a small apartment with Mary’s mother and her mother’s boyfriend.

M's job at Burger King allowed her to contribute marginally to the household expenses but the three adults weren’t able to keep up with the bills and an eviction notice was issued. With help from M's mom, M and her children moved into a hotel but that lasted only two weeks before the money dried up. On the day they checked out, M contacted the PATH team at Extended Housing.

Leah, the PATH Homeless Outreach Worker, attempted to get them into Lake County’s Project Hope for the Homeless but that facility had no available space. To avoid them having to resort to living in a car, Leah used PATH funding to get M and her children back into a hotel where they would have access to the basic necessities. She also connected M with mental health services through Crossroads Health, and began pursuing a Housing Subsidy Voucher and referrals to other available housing services through Extended Housing.

This story has a happy ending. Thanks to the services she received through Crossroads Health, M’s mental health issues have dramatically improved. She and her children are now living in safe, affordable housing funded by Extended Housing and the PATH program. The family has a fresh start and a promising future.

Extended Housing and Crossroads Health receives funding and support from the Lake County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services (ADAMHS) Board.

December 2020

About one month into my role as an outreach worker, my supervisor gave me a referral for a woman, L, who had been well-known to the community for a few years. Other outreach workers had attempted to engage her in the past but she seemed to be very suspicious of strangers. My supervisor gave me some advice: Go and become a familiar face, be patient and persistent, and don’t be discouraged if L isn’t ready to speak to you.

I went with another outreach worker to the location where L spent most of her days and all of her nights: a bench in a greenspace at the intersection of two busy roadways. My teammate stayed back to give her space as I approached the area. There sat L, her grey and black hair spilling out from under layers of winter hats, her eyes covered by black sunglasses with bright yellow frames. I sat down at a second bench situated a few feet from hers. I nodded and waved, fearful that if I was too outgoing in my approach, she would leave. Moments after I acknowledged her, L got up from the bench and walked over to a bus stop a few yards away. I sat for a moment wondering what to do next. I walked over to L at the bus stop and introduced myself. I told her that people in the community expressed concern for her and that I would just like to make sure that she’s alright. L responded shortly, gaze averted, “I’m okay.” I asked her whether she would like something to eat or drink and she shook her head no. I could sense that she was feeling uneasy with me in her presence and I wanted to think of a way to show her that I wasn’t trying to pressure her or make her uncomfortable. I asked her whether she could use a bus pass and she quickly confirmed. I reached into my bag and handed her a bus ticket and was surprised when she reached out her hand to accept it just in time for the city bus to approach the stop. L boarded the bus headed south and I wondered whether I would see her again.

I spent the next several weeks going out to L’s neighborhood to check in with her. I began to earn her trust by showing up, offering food and supplies, and making sure to keep our conversations pressure-free. I would bring up the idea of going to a shelter as cold weather was approaching but back off when she would emphatically express that she didn’t want to sleep there. I began to think of things that we could accomplish together that she would feel comfortable with. We started out by completing applications for Medicaid and SNAP. L began receiving food assistance and we would often go to the grocery store together to get her meals for the day. As she began to see me as someone she could count on, L started to open up more and talk to me. She began coming around to the idea of finding permanent housing. Building on the success of her approval for health insurance and food benefits, we talked about what receiving social security income would allow her to do—like finding a place to live.

L expressed an unwillingness to go into most buildings. She stated that she was concerned about the metal detectors, or that she might have to be around men. She was fearful that she would get in trouble for receiving benefits like social security income, stating that “the boss” told her she wasn’t allowed. Eventually she agreed to come to FrontLine Service for a diagnostic assessment. She asked me to sit in with her for her appointment. She had never before received mental health care. She spoke with a counselor and was diagnosed with schizophrenia.

My concern for L’s well-being was growing as the weather became more frigid and inhospitable. Her mental health seemed to be in decline and her body was suffering from exposure to the harsh Cleveland winter. We would drive by the shelter so that she could get familiar with the area and she would go back and forth on whether she would be willing to sleep inside. I knew that unconditional positive regard was so important in this relationship. When she would choose to return to the bench in the park, though I was disappointed and extremely concerned for her well-being, I would not change my demeanor in any way that would express that our relationship was impacted.

As L continued to sleep in the park during the harsh winter weather, the community’s concern for her grew. Her behavior was becoming more erratic and potentially dangerous for her well-being. One evening, the police escorted her to the psych ER, where she was admitted.

I went to the hospital to visit with L. As I arrived on the floor, she spotted me and quickly approached me with all of her belongings in tow. I told her that I was so relieved to see that she was alright and she immediately began to get ready to leave with me. I explained to her that she hadn’t been discharged quite yet and we had a conversation around her housing plan. We discussed options available to her and she decided that she would like to try a group home. We quickly completed the paperwork and made a plan. L would step down from the hospital to the Crisis Stabilization Unit, and from there, move on to permanent housing in a group home in the same neighborhood where she grew up and had been sleeping.

A few days later, I arrived to pick L up from being discharged from the hospital. We reviewed our plan and loaded her belongings into the car. As we drove to the Crisis Stabilization Unit, I talked with her about what she could expect. Once we arrived and were seated inside ready to do the intake process, L began to express apprehension. She was told that she would need to temporarily wear a gown or scrubs while her belongings were put through the laundry. She stated, “This is just like the hospital and I don’t want to be in the hospital again!”  We talked about how the CSU allowed for her to come and go as she wishes and was a place to briefly stabilize before we move on to the next step. L’s lips turned white, she became guarded, and it was evident that she was very fearful in that moment. I invited her to go outside to get some air and talk. She had decided that she would not like to complete the intake to the Crisis Stabilization Unit. With her group home placement not ready for a few days to come, I again became concerned that she would choose to sleep outside.

After talking for a while, L agreed to go to our coordinated intake building to complete an intake assessment to be assigned a shelter bed. We went to the intake together and were almost finished, when the worker completing the data entry stated, “Okay, now you just have to bring this paper to the shelter to check in tonight.” L became visibly shaken and said that she didn’t intend to go to the shelter tonight. She left the building and asked me to take her back to her neighborhood. It was 8:00 at night, the sun was long gone, and a blizzard was overtaking the entire city. I told her that I could not return her to the park bench because it wasn’t safe for her to sleep outside in these conditions. We went back and forth for a while but ultimately, L wasn’t ready to sleep inside and she got on a bus to go back to the park.

The next day, I went to L’s neighborhood to look for her. I couldn’t find her anywhere and I became very worried. A few hours later, I went to the women’s shelter for another matter and saw L sitting in the community room, sunglasses on, head down, clutching her backpack. I was completely shocked to see her in the shelter, but even more so relieved. I walked up to her and greeted her with a big smile across my face. For the first time since I’d met her, I saw L smile too when she realized it was me.

L came with me back to FrontLine Service to visit our clinic and have a physical completed. She had an appointment with one of our prescribers and again asked me to sit in. They discussed medication and the provider gave L the space and information she needed to decide which medication would be right for her. With all of the necessary parts in place, she was finally ready to move into the group home.

I accompanied L to the group home and on the way, we passed by park where she had spent so much of her time. She talked to me about how she never wants to sleep outside again, how it had been “scary”, and how she knows that it isn’t safe for her. We met the group home operator and the other residents and took a tour. I helped L set up her room and unload her belongings. As she sat down on her bed, I breathed a sigh of relief.

I met with L weekly at the group home to check in and to bring her to appointments at FrontLine. With each passing meeting, I could observe her lowering her guard and becoming more comfortable in her surroundings. I still accompanied her to her appointments, but she was becoming more talkative with the nurses and prescriber. One day when I arrived to her home to pick her up for an appointment, she was standing ready to greet me in the living room. She pulled down her sunglasses, looking me in the eye, and excitedly said, “Hi Jennifer! How are you?” It was the first time she had felt comfortable making eye contact without her sunglasses and the first time she had greeted me in such a way. I knew this moment was a milestone.

I began bringing along her Integrated Dual Diagnosis Treatment case manager to our meetings, knowing that she would soon transition to a new team. She began to see her new case manager as another reliable, familiar face and FrontLine Service as a safe place to receive care. During our final meeting together, she expressed to me that she wants to stay in her current residence at the group home “forever.”

Spotlight Articles 2019

January 2019

The Help Network PATH team met S after she reached out, telling staff she’d tried every other avenue for help but hadn’t had any luck. She was fleeing domestic violence but had an altercation at a local domestic violence shelter that left she and her three children on the streets. She was at the end of her rope, she told PATH, and she just wanted to keep her babies safe. She was referred to another local shelter by the PATH staff, and S was able to get in without any hassle.

When the team met with S for her intake, she expressed eagerness to get back on her feet. She had been homeless for over six months, fleeing Michigan and an abuser she’d fought long and hard to escape. She was primarily concerned for her children, she confided in PATH workers. She’d been diagnosed with a mental health disorder before they were born, and she’d struggled with it for a lifetime. The last thing she wanted was for it to negatively impact her children’s lives. Since she had made some mistakes in her past, regarding the law and some substance use, she was worried she wouldn’t find anywhere to live.

But S worked hard. She cooperated with enthusiasm, often calling PATH to see what her next steps were and letting them know that she was still looking and still working hard to provide the best outcome for her kids. In the time she worked with PATH, S was able to get benefits and her health insurance transferred from Michigan to Ohio. She was able to maintain the Social Security benefit she feared would be taken because she hadn’t kept up with her medical appointments. She got connected to mental health services, for which she told staff she’d be forever grateful. She also started taking GED classes in the evenings, determined to make a better life for herself and her children.

S was in the PATH program for a little over a month when visited the team, beaming, and they knew she’d found a place to settle down and plant roots. PATH paid her deposit, and it was because of her willingness to work with PATH and take the needed steps to assure a happier and healthier life. At last contact, S actually reached out, letting the team know that she was sending other clients to our program, because, “If anyone can help, it’s the Help Network PATH team!”

February 2019

We first met P two years ago shortly after she had been released from jail in Akron. She showed up to do laundry and use the shower services initially, but we noticed paranoid behavior and extreme anxiety to the point of psychosis.  She had some grooming issues that she refused to acknowledge, like significant matting on the back of her head. P would also hang out with individuals who seemed to be taking advantage of her and were suspected to be abusive.

Over a year, our PATH team continued to try and work with P and would from time to time have some success with getting her to see a doctor or slowly work on housing. P was with an individual who was eventually sent to jail for a period of time and the PATH team was able to get P into a shelter where she began to flourish. P was initially mistrusting of the whole situation, but she was eventually able to connect with two of the PATH/Homeless Outreach Workers and she began to open up about her situation.

P wanted to get into housing, but was being threatened by her past. P wanted to reconnect with her family and wanted to work on getting herself into a better situation. HOW Laura was able to talk with P about her grooming habits and even assisted P in getting the matting removed from her hair. PATH Outreach Worker Steve was able to work with P to get her subsidized housing in place. After years of working towards housing, P finally had her own place.

Unfortunately, this was not the end of P’s problems. P was still dealing with court issues for past discretions and her mental health was still a problem for her. PATH Outreach Worker Steve was able to help P with her court dates and her mental health appointments until P was less anxious about the situation and felt comfortable working on these issues by herself. She eventually completed Mental Health Court successfully. P was even able to reach out to her family out of county and began visiting with them on a regular basis.

If not for the vigilant work from H.O.W Laura and PATH Outreach Worker Steve, P would still be living on the streets, in abandoned houses, and would not have taken the steps to working on her mental health and housing. P has been able to successfully live in her own apartment for a few months, regularly takes her medications on time, and has even spent a significant amount of time reconnecting with her loved ones.

March 2019

J went through a divorce several years ago and had been able to maintain her home of over two decades for a few years after her husband left.  But eventually J left her employment and her home went into foreclosure. Unable to live with family members, she ended up at the local homeless shelter. 

A PATH specialist spoke with J at the homeless shelter to screen symptoms of depression and her needs to find stable housing.  J tearfully described feeling extremely hopeless as she had lost her home and her van would not start.  She also expressed suicidal ideation that began several days earlier. 

J agreed to an assessment at the local hospital so she could obtain immediate help and enroll PATH and mental health services with Transitional Living.  J enrolled in PATH that day and PATH’s clinicians were able to coordinate with the hospital to help her begin residential mental health treatment, individual/group therapy and psychiatric and case management services.  When J was released from the hospital she immediately entered Transitional Living’s residential program which allows clients to stabilize as they learn independent living skills. 

Once J was able to stabilize her symptoms sufficiently to leave the residential program, she was able to obtain a voucher to obtain independent housing, as she had already completed a housing application for permanent supportive housing while in the homeless shelter. Although symptoms of depression were still somewhat present, she was able to find an apartment she liked in an area she wanted to move to.  PATH was able to find financial assistance to help her move her belongings out of storage and into her new apartment. 

J has made friends in her apartment complex who are also in groups with her.  This is helpful because they are able to visit each other and she does not feel as alone as she did at first.  J’s case manager also visits her at home and helps her buy food and other personal items.

Though J continues to struggle with depression and the fear of not being able to support herself if she were to ever lose the permanent supportive housing voucher, she has been able to develop skills and reach out to her treatment providers when needed between her outpatient and group therapy appointments. J has applied for social security benefits and is hopeful that she will have an income in the near future. She is working very hard to remain stable in the community and always expresses gratitude for PATH’s help in her time of need.

April 2019

J was homeless and in crisis for several years, even enrolling in services with Miami Valley Housing Opportunities’ PATH Program several different times. First homeless in 2006, J met the PATH team in May 2016. Engagement began then, but success in attaining housing and positive changes in behavior took time.

Since engagement with the PATH team, it has been a process of building trust with others and finding ways to have hope for himself. J praises the PATH team and his PATH case manager, Heather, for helping him in ways no one else did. He said “she never gave up on me, even when I gave up on myself.”

J told of how Heather came to him when he had no one in his life. It took months of outreach, until J could move past his strong distrust of others, especially service providers. Described as difficult to engage, J required a patient and compassionate approach. Even though, while homeless, J struggled with making appointments, was not asking for help, and lacked what most consider to be social norms, J started to trust his PATH Specialist.

Heather eventually referred J to behavioral health care at Goodwill Easter Seals Miami Valley. There, J met with a kind and patient therapist who often met with him as a walk-in, as that accommodated him best. He was living in such a risky, dangerous way, and providers were sensitive to his past experiences. The focus of PATH and his therapist was to build trust with him in the hope he would start to trust others.

Heather describes J as still being a brutally honest person. But, she says, he is not the same person he had learned to be by living on the streets most of his life. He has goals and dreams.

J always said he didn’t want to live off of disability payments. His benefits were denied, once he was released from prison in recent years, so he had more incentive to seek and maintain employment. The Employment Specialist in SLATE (MVHO’s housing stabilization program) assisted him to find a job he would enjoy and value.

His employer not only values him as an employee but considers him one of her top employees. He was hired in a seasonal position, but when the holidays ended, J was offered permanent employment.

J has achieved many of the goals that he once thoughtful he could never achieve. Now, he has the self-confidence to keep setting new goals and working to achieve them.

May 2019

L, age 64, whose drug of choice was crack cocaine first became homeless in Hamilton County in 2011. His untreated depression contributed to his instability and anxiety and resulted in a frustrating cycle through various Cincinnati area treatment facilities and homeless shelters. When asked, L said he used crack to drown out the painful reality of his life.

Over a period of seven years, L received inpatient/outpatient treatment at The Center for Addiction Treatment and had numerous stays at the Parkway and Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center but was either removed for being under the influence of drugs or simply got tired of the program. The owner of the dry cleaners L worked for intermittently during this time knew about his addiction, and tried to accommodate him, but there were times when L would just stop going in. Unfortunately, L was also well known in the Hamilton County Justice Center, which processed his many arrest and charges stemming from his substance use.

In March 2018 L visited the Homeless Coalition and spoke with a PATH worker. He explained he was currently residing at City Gospel Mission but the arrangement wasn’t working out, and he wanted to be admitted to The Salvation Army shelter in Norwood. The Salvation Army agreed but only 12 days after arriving, L left and was on the streets once again. The PATH team found L, administered a risk-assessment tool, the VI-SPDAT, and wrote a referral to Parkway Center. Until this point, L relied, unsuccessfully, on shelters and treatment facilities to address his obvious issues of homelessness and substance use. But he had never tried to manage his depression or explore the possibility his depression was the cause of either issue. While at Parkway the PATH team connected L to mental health services through Greater Cincinnati Behavioral Health. With consistent treatment, L soon stopped using cocaine, returned to work at the dry cleaners and developed a housing plan with his case manager.

Then suddenly there was a bump in the road: it was discovered L had capiases that were going to hold up the housing process. Frustrated with the delay, he started using again which resulted in him being terminated from Parkway due to noncompliance. L started to disengage with his case manager and returned down his path of substance abuse. Fortunately, the PATH team was undeterred and continued to reach out to a now rather frail, undernourished and depleted L out on the streets. At that point L confided his only emotional support was his sick sister who lived in a nursing home.

The PATH team turned to the HMIS VESTA homeless management software and determined L had enough monthly engagements to prioritize him as “chronically homeless.” PATH reached out to Strategies to End Homelessness (a Hamilton County Continuum of Care agency) about his chronic status and L was slated for permanent supportive housing through Talbert House at the end of August 2018. He quickly reconnected with his case manager and continued his recovery journey.

However, to proceed with housing, L needed to satisfy his arrest warrant and voluntarily turned himself into the Hamilton County Justice. Even though he was required to serve time, he didn’t lose faith in the system; he the knowledge that he would soon be housed helped endure his sentence and another short time on the streets, feeling hopeful about the future.

L now receives SSDI, and remains sober, connected to mental health services and in permanent housing today. He thanks the PATH team and Greater Cincinnati Behavioral Health for not giving up on him and he serves at local soup kitchens to give back. He says if it wasn’t for PATH and God he would still be homeless.

June 2019

This story begins on a hot and balmy August summer day in Toledo, Ohio 2018. H and J, having just arrived from Southern Ohio, were homeless. According to them, “Toledo was a good place to get help.” Due to their mental health needs they could and not live separately in either a men’s or women’s shelter; and there was no room available at any family shelters. Eventually, they were enrolled into the PATH Program and within in a few days PATH workers connected them to a community mental health clinic where they received their diagnostic assessment. They revealed to the intake coordinator they had been staying in a uninhabitable camper located in the backyard of a family friend until the camper was cited as an eyesore and removed.

Once they left the camper they had to literally “rough it”.  They borrowed money from other friends to purchase a tent and pitched it near a community center. H and J seemed not to mind sleeping in the tent high temperatures and several rainy nights. Sometimes they would spend days at a nearby library looking for employment, shelter openings, and places to stay cool. They continued this process for about three weeks while checking in often with 211 for suitable shelter placement. The friend in whose backyard camper they lived, allowed them use of their bathroom facilities to freshen up. They received food from the community center near where their tent was pitched and occasionally from local restaurants. They were even hired by McDonalds for a short period.

Larry Robinson, a PATH outreach worker, met with the couple the Friday before Labor Day to ensure they were still safe and could remain safe during the holiday weekend. Although they were at the top of the waiting list, there was still no shelter available. Larry encouraged them to hold on. H and J assured Larry they would be OK and would possibly spend time with a friend over the weekend. “What’s the worst that could happen?” they asked as I walked toward my vehicle.

However, as Larry was preparing to return to work Tuesday morning. reviewing his phone log he saw he had gotten a call from H and J. He learned their tent had been stolen over the weekend and they didn’t know how they were going to make it. He rushed over to meet with them and was surprised to find them smiling and giddy with excitement when he got there.

Apparently, they had, only moments earlier, received a call from 211 informing them that shelter space had opened up. Larry assisted them with shelter placement that day and they remained there until they were place in Permanent Supportive Housing. When it was time to sign the lease on their permanent residence, Larry was there with household items and some furniture, and introduced them to an NPI Housing Support Specialist who would continue to work with them. H and J are, as of the time of this publishing, still fully engaged with their mental health provider.

September 2019

C is a single mother with an eight-month-old daughter. They lived with C’s verbally abusive brother in a trailer that had no electricity, no running water, and excessive mold.

Since childhood C had dealt with depression and anxiety, and now the symptoms were returning. She cried often, had dramatic mood swings, and was experiencing sleep and eating disorders.

When the Health Department eventually found it necessary to condemn the trailer they suggested she explore the PATH program offered through Extended Housing. PATH links those facing homelessness with mental health and housing services. She connected with Extended Housing’s Homeless Outreach Coordinator, Leah, who helped C get enrolled in PATH and guided her toward other resources as well.

Project Hope, Lake County’s homeless shelter, was full, so Leah was able to temporarily placw C and her child in a hotel so they’d have access to basic necessities. Leah also began pursuing a Housing Subsidy Voucher for C and encouraged her to remain involved in services.

Because of Extended Housing, Leah, PATH and the voucher program, C and her daughter recently moved into safe, affordable housing. She took a big step and told her brother it was time for them to part ways. She is managing her mental health issues with the help of counseling through Crossroads Health. She has overcome significant obstacles and has begun a new chapter in her life, very determined and very grateful.

October 2019

The Help Network of Northeast Ohio’s PATH team met R at a local food kitchen. R explained that he’d been sleeping in a local park for two months. He’d been evicted from his previous housing after a very brief stay. This was R’s fourth time being homeless since his release from prison a few years prior. Although, he describes himself as an optimistic guy, he told PATH the constant moving and fear of arrest was wearing on him. He’d been banned from local shelters due to repeat stays and infractions of their rules. He’d considered leaving the area but knew that his problems would not be solved in a new town. Instead, he decided he would reach out for help, a large step that he hadn’t been ready to make previously.

R struggled with substance use and mental health that he was afraid would keep him from maintaining employment. From the very start, R was determined to work so that he could find a place to live that would allow him to have safe visits with his daughter and situations that jeopardize his sobriety. With gentle guidance and support from the PATH team, R enrolled in an outpatient program for alcohol use. He maintained his sobriety during his time with PATH, found steady employment, and still made time to check in with the team to see what his next steps were for housing.

Nearly three months after meeting with PATH, R found a reasonably priced apartment to rent. PATH paid the deposit and he was due to receive first month assistance through another agency in the area. When everything seemed to be set in stone, the company that owned the apartment liquidated and sold the residential buildings, and once again R was without a roof over his head. His optimism wounded, P wondered if he was simply meant to be homeless. Of course, the PATH team continued to advocate on his behalf, and it was able to get the deposit money returned just in time to sign with a new landlord. At last contact, R was settling into his new home and had even enjoyed a few visits with his daughter. He thanked the PATH team for its assistance, and PATH reminded P that it was his own hard work and persistence that carried him through and would continue to maintain his housing.

November 2019

C came to ICAN Housing in May 2019. He had been living in a vehicle since September of 2018 and was afraid he would die there. C’s early years were impacted with undiagnosed medical issues that were not discovered until adulthood and recently, he had survived four heart attacks and three strokes over the course of six months. Due to those conditions, he suffered from extreme shortness of breath and his mobility was limited.

C had avoided shelters as he had been incarcerated most of his life and felt highly anxious when forced into institutional settings. An initial tour of an available shelter caused C to have a massive panic attack as he felt like he was in prison when one of the doors clicked shut. It took ICAN Housing Outreach Specialist Christie Marhefka some time to reassure and settle C down. Christie worked to get C and his fiancé placed in a different shelter. He was eventually placed at the YWCA family shelter, which did not trigger his anxiety.

When attempting to connect to Community Mental Health Services C called his assigned Christie, very emotional, because he felt overwhelmed by the Verification of Disability process. Christie stepped in and provided assistance in retrieving his required documents so that he could move to permanent supportive housing. Christie drove him faithfully to numerous apartment showings and medical appointments and served as an emotional support when a very promising housing situation fell through and then again when C and his fiancé ended their relationship.

Initially when C and his fiancé encountered coordinated entry via the Homeless Hotline they were told that a particular place in Canton would be opening up as the person currently living there would be moving out. When the person redacted her plan, which would mean C and fiancé could be out of shelter before they would have a place to live. This put great strain on C’s mental state.  Newly single, C and fiancé were each re-evaluated with a new Service Prioritization Decision Assistance Tool score, changing C’s position on the Permanent Supportive Housing list.

Eventually, ICAN Housing offered C rental unit perfectly suited to his needs, which he gladly accepted. C was relieved and extremely grateful to be off the streets and into a place he could call home. His apartment is situated on the public bus line and within walking distance of his medical and mental health providers, which is vital as C has great difficulty walking due to his shortness of breath. He is doing well, attending to his health in ways that were not possible previously and very grateful to ICAN Housing.

December 2019

Prior to P becoming homeless and dwelling in one of the many campsites in the Cleveland area, he lived on several different states, working as pizza delivery driver, cook and bar tender. How P got to Cleveland, he does not recall; his memory became very poor due to a traumatic brain injury a decade earlier that required the placement of a metal plate to reinforce his skull. P was diagnosed with schizophrenia which caused him to have delusions, disorganized thoughts, especially when meeting new people. His main delusions caused him to believe he needed to transition to a female body to have children. As a person living outside with severe mental illness, P endured numerous acts of violence. He felt the only way to stay safe was to avoid and scream at others who got too close.

P’s mental health condition was not only a barrier for him to find housing but also to receiving treatment. P refused many treatments and medications because of his delusions regarding his gender identity and the desire for gender re-assignment surgery. P also initially refused to apply for social security benefits he for which he was eligible. P had tried to find employment but due to his disorganized thinking, he would struggle to maintain whatever jobs he got.

During his stay at the campsite, P relied on homeless centers around Cleveland for basic necessities, including St. Malachi’s Church, West Side Catholic Center. P also had visits from outreach workers from Care Alliance and Frontline Service PATH program. By the summer of 2019, P was housed through the efforts of outreach workers from both agencies. P is now living in a group home in Cleveland where all of his basic needs are met and he enjoys a feeling of safety and personal privacy. He is working with his case manager at Frontline Service to maintain this living situation independently and has a goal of building a support system of friends and family.  

Spotlight Articles 2018

Cuyahoga County – December 2018

My first interaction with R was when she walked into the lobby at Frontline Service in Cleveland with a resident from The Norma Herr Women’s Shelter. She was looking for assistance with obtaining an ID and applying for foods stamps. After talking with her and reading her coordinated intake, it was clear she was suffering from a severe mental illness and was possibly pregnant. After receiving her ID she never came back into the agency. The ID was the only thing she wanted. As her outreach worker, I went to the shelter weekly to meet with her and attempt to discuss services, mental health treatment and prenatal care. She said she did not want or need either. After two months of being at the shelter and resistant to any outreach services she was arrested for fighting due to an active for warrant for domestic violence. I contacted the nurse at the jail to confirm her pregnancy. At that point she was 23 weeks pregnant and in complete denial.

When she returned to the shelter from jail I would outreach her and continue to offer mental health and prenatal care. We also had outreach nurses involved for the prenatal care but she continued to refuse care.  She was resistant to any help. When she was seven months pregnant, protruding abdomen, legs starting to swell, walking around in the middle of the street with no shoes on, PATH intervened. R was probated.

Two weeks into her hospital stay, while receiving medication, R called Frontline Services and said “Hi, this is R. I’m in the hospital and I’m pregnant.” I met with her on the inpatient unit. She said she called the father of the child and her family in Arizona to inform them of the pregnancy. She was excited about the birth of her son, mentally stable, and eager to take care of him. She also contacted her birth mother in California to tell her as well. R was 18 months old when she and her twin sister were given up for adoption. She never saw her birth mother again and only had brief interactions with her on social media, but she agreed to come to Ohio for the birth. She was discharged from the hospital to a step down stabilization unit where she applied for permanent supportive housing for homeless young adults. She was prioritized as high risk and moved to the top of the list. While at the step down unit she went to regular prenatal appointments and applied for WIC. Everything was in place for the baby’s arrival but her water broke and she delivered her son four weeks early.

The child was placed in emergency custody of the Department of Children and Family Services. Her birth mother arrived three days after the baby was born. She brought her sponsor with her and stayed in Cleveland for one week.

After giving birth, R returned to the shelter alone for three weeks until she moved into the PSH. R and the father attend regular visits with their son and have completed all aspects of their DCFS case plan. She was closed in PATH once engaged with long term case management and her psychiatrist through Frontline Service, and after six months of stability with medication and housing, she will be able to have her son at the PSH for home visits. Reunification looks promising!

Stark County – November 2018

Hope is a fragile thing. In its essence, hope is the realization that there is something better than events experienced and time spent in seemingly hopeless situations. CW is an example of one who had a trickle of hope left despite multiple barriers and is now finally experiencing his hope’s fulfillment.

CW had been chronically homeless for the past 10 years. He was medically discharged after a short time in the Navy. His family was scattered around Ohio and the US, but he seemed to be somewhat at odds with them. It would seem a 43-year old with no criminal record or evictions would be able to quickly get on his feet. Yet, battling a degenerative physical condition and severe depression, CW found himself living on the streets. Obstacles overcoming his state of being seemed to steep him further in a depressed state.

ICAN Supportive Services Manager Aaron first engaged CW at a community event in May 2018 when CW approached ICAN Housing’s table. He had been staying outside at a nearby park. Aaron and Housing Support Coordinator Heather gave CW a tote bag with ICAN contact and address information as well as a list of hot meals and resources. Both urged him to stop by ICAN to see how ICAN could support him.

CW came to ICAN Housing a day later after the initial engagement and completed some intake paperwork. Initially it was determined that CW was not eligible for PATH because he was receiving some Community Mental Health Services including medication. Aaron supplied information on affordable housing and directed CW to register his status with the Stark County Homeless Hotline. CW complied but admitted he did not have much hope for being housed in Stark County as he had encountered multiple barriers prior.

CW was eventually able to secure temporary housing, obtain identification and receive voucher and transportation assistance. He also received basic clothing and hygiene provisions. The small things seemed to keep him motivated and, to a degree, helped ease his mental state. He expressed that he felt like someone cared about him. However, he expressed in early July that his degenerative condition was worsening. The Veterans Administration also denied his application for services despite being medically discharged.

CW had been waiting for permanent supportive housing but had a strong desire to get out of the shelter and move forward. He already secured a job on his own but asked ICAN to help him schedule some interviews for other positions. Unfortunately, CW missed his first interview after passing out on the bus as a result of donating plasma earlier that day.

Discouraged, CW disappeared for a while surmising he likely would never be housed.  He stated that he was going to travel somewhere else for help.

In September 2018 Aaron reconnected with CW and discovered that he had tried to find assistance elsewhere but was unsuccessful. He stated that he was no longer connected to services and had not been since shortly after ending contact with Aaron. CW confided in Aaron he had nearly lost all hope he had been only seconds from throwing his phone into a lake, but before he did, something stopped him and he felt prompted to check his email. He discovered that his SMHA application had been accepted and he was being invited to view an apartment. Aaron enrolled CW into PATH and gave support to reconnect with former provider or choose another one. Aaron was also able to cover both his security deposit and first month’s rent, as well as provide a few household items such as a bed, linens, pillows, towels, mats, some silverware and pans that had been donated.

CW stated that he thought he would never find an home was astonished that it had actually happened. Aaron noticed a significant positive change in demeanor once CW was settled in an apartment. That fulfillment of something long hoped for deeply impacted CW. He was exceedingly grateful for all the assistance ICAN Housing had provided and was grateful that ICAN had not given up and kept his hope alive.

Mahoning County – October 2018

When R, age 42, first encountered the PATH team from Help Network of North East Ohio, he had been homelessness for just over a year. During that that, he often found himself asleep on park benches, under bridges and just out of sight. When he made it to a local shelter, he was grateful, but felt lost and as though he had run out of options. He also struggled with serious physical health conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure; the medications he needed for were hard to keep when he was always on the move.

R didn’t seem to understand why the team was so impressed with his dedication to his work as an STNA. When he first got involved with PATH, he’d been at his current job for only three weeks, but was already being praised for his work ethic and he admitted he couldn’t see himself doing anything else to earn his living. He would often meet with the PATH team after pulling twelve hour shifts at the nursing home with a sometimes three or four hour commute on top of that. He’d greet the PATH team, exclaiming, “Haven’t been to sleep yet, but I’m still kicking!” and PATH would remind him to take care of himself.

Since it was so early in his work at the nursing home, R’s insurance coverage had not yet begun, and he was worried that he wouldn’t be able to afford mental health assistance. However, after PATH referred him to a local mental healthcare provider, be was finally able to begin receiving the assistance he needed.

R’s case was opened and closed within a month, largely due to his willingness to work with PATH staff and his eagerness to be housed and healthy. With a PATH-provided security deposit, he was able to sign a lease with a private rental agency right around the time his health insurance began.

He said he was “eternally grateful” to the PATH team for reminding him of his worth and encouraging him to keep fighting through the hard times.

Lake County – September 2018

C was born in Cleveland, and raised in Painesville. The first of her seven children was born when Ciera was 15. At age 17 she moved to Texas where, two years later, she first sought help for her worsening depressive illness.

Earlier this year she returned to Painesville to escape domestic violence. While she and her children were living in a single motel room, C shared her situation with a store clerk, someone who had received assistance through the PATH program. The clerk suggested C contact Extended Housing.

Extended Housing referred C to Leah, its PATH Coordinator. Leah was able to provide immediate help.

PATH paid for motel rooms for C and her children until she was able to get a room at the local domestic violence shelter. PATH also enabled C to enroll her children in school and daycare, and obtain clothing.

C explained, “Leah gave me strength and hope when I felt like giving up. Leah continually checked to make sure my children and I were all OK. She got me connected with the mental health services I needed through a local provider, and continued to work with me until I became comfortable with my social worker."

Extended Housing now subsidizes C’s rent with funds from the Lake County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services (ADAMHS) Board. C has a housing support worker with whom she meets weekly. And C also plans to pursue a degree at Lake Erie College.

 “I’m living proof that things can work out if you’re patient, if you’re willing to reach out for help from others, and if you work hard,” C says.

Lorain County – July 2018

N is 64 years “young,” from Clearwater, FL. She has one married son in Elyria and a sister in Vermilion.

N moved to Ohio in October 2017 after she had been displaced by, not one, but, two hurricanes (Irma and Wilma) which swept through Florida only months earlier.

Once in Ohio, N “couch surfed” until her son agreed to have her to stay with him. But despite being able to live with her son temporarily, N was relying on her SSI to provide for her medical, clothing and personal needs. Her only source of food was food banks.

Looking back to age 40, N first noticed she felt sad, down and depressed many days, which, she said, was not characteristic of her. She sought treatment with a psychiatrist at that time, but all he was able to provide her with were prescriptions.

“They didn’t give me anyone to talk to. They didn’t care; they just gave me medication. Didn’t ask what’s wrong, what really triggers me.”

However, when she arrived in Ohio, she discovered PATH, for which she is endlessly grateful. The PATH team (specifically, Case Manager Shenequa Epps) connected her to mental health and emotional support services, routine medical care and food assistance, helped her apply for a duplicate birth certificate and state identification, and found her a stable place to live (which she loves). N completed the PATH program five months ago, continues to work with a case manager and describes her situation as “on the up side now!”

N explained that the hardest part of seeking help when she was homeless and not connected was simply not knowing where to find the help. The toughest part of her mental illness is “trying to follow through, not being able to do daily things, having emotional up and downs. Not knowing where home will be from one day to the next.”

N stated she would not change anything about her struggle because it made her a better person, quelled her pride and reminded her God is in control. She is now living independently, but with support, in her own apartment.

“At PATH, we treat everyone with dignity, humanity and respect. It’s not our job to judge, but to see them for who they are and who they could be,” Case Manager Epps explained.

Summit County – February 2018

The PATH team first became aware of S in July of 2016, but according to the local shelter, he had been homeless on and off for several years. S is a very quiet, respectful man in his 60s who doesn’t ask for much. His subdued demeanor is actually what put him at risk of falling through the cracks and as the PATH team got to know him, it became apparent that S needed more help than he let on.

S was known to hang around a quarter-mile section of town near the shelter, often idling at gas stations and empty store fronts. Without income or food stamps, he would often pan handle for meals and cigarettes. The PATH team would visit him frequently and attempt to engage him, but S would politely decline any assistance offered. S would tell outreach workers that he was working on a house with his brother and that the house would be completed in a month or so. As time went on it became apparent that there wasn’t a house, and outreach workers realized that S had been telling people this story for several years. Outreach workers began to notice that S wore cotton in his ears and that he was very internally stimulated. While S was very polite and kind to others, he would argue and swear at the voices he heard.  The PATH outreach workers continued to visit S frequently for about a year, began building his trust, and assisted him in applying for Medicaid and Food stamps, but S continued to refuse any housing assistance.

This past winter, the shelter was forced ban S due to unsubstantiated complaints from other homeless clients. On the particular day that he was asked to leave shelter, the weather had turned and it was dangerously cold outside. S had nowhere to go. There happened to be an apartment open for chronically homeless individuals and the PATH team saw this as an opportunity to help S. Outreach workers collaborated with the Continuum of Care and Coordinated Entry to quickly move S into an efficiency apartment.

S is now receiving evidence-based Critical Time Intervention case management through the CABHI (Cooperative Agreement to Benefit Homeless Individuals) program and can begin addressing his medical and mental health needs now that his housing crisis has been stabilized. S obtained an apartment after significant trust and relationship building efforts of the PATH outreach team.

Columbiana County – January 2018

M is a 54 year old male, who was born and raised in East Liverpool, Ohio. When M was in his early twenties, he was mugged and assaulted near some local railroad tracks. As a result, M was knocked unconscious, and he was struck by a train. The train dragged M for miles, leaving him in a coma for two months. M received physical, occupational and speech therapy to assist in his recovery, but suffers from permanent brain damage.

After M’s recovery, he and his wife divorced, and he moved to Virginia Beach with his young sons. While living there, he remarried and seven years later moved to South Carolina, where he lived for 13 years. During this time, M went to several colleges and never let go of his will to overcome.

When M and his second wife divorced, he was forced back to his roots in East Liverpool, where he “couch-surfed” for several months. M ended up living in a tent on a friend’s property and was directed to attend a free community lunch at the Resource Center in the East End of East Liverpool. While there, M stumbled upon a flyer for the PATH program, with a number to call. The flyer for the PATH program, which is administered through The Counseling Center in Lisbon, Ohio, stated, “Are you homeless? We can help.” M called the number; he spoke with the PATH program coordinator about his situation; and she made arrangements for M to be assessed to determine his eligibility for the program.

Several days later M was contacted to let him know that he qualified for the program, and that a room was available at The Kendall House, a homeless shelter for individuals with mental health concerns in Lisbon. A PATH assistant met with M to discuss his needs, and he was transported to the Kendall House. M was excited and very grateful. He fit right in at Kendall and was always willing to help the other residents out. He has explained that he often has felt overlooked because of his disabilities. He stated, “It feels good to help people. I’m a people person and I love to be around them.” M was at The Kendall House for 6 weeks and now resides in Wellsville, Ohio, having successfully exited the PATH program.

When asked what the hardest part of recovery is, M stated, “The hardest part is still on-going.” M explained that he feels he must always please others, regardless of his own feelings. He still struggles with his emotions and often feels like a failure if he doesn’t meet his personal goals. Because of these struggles, M has not had contact with his sons in several years, but plans to contact them through social media. M stated the following when asked if he has a quote that he lives by: “Read Job 28:28. These are powerful words to live by. I never really felt homeless, because I knew God would always have a room for me in Heaven.”

Spotlight Articles 2017

Butler County – March 2017

J is a 64 year old female. She currently resides in Hamilton, Ohio.  J was homeless “off and on” for six years. She has been a peer specialist for 5 years. In order for an individual to be eligible to apply for the peer specialist position, that individual has to have a mental health diagnosis, have a history of homelessness, and not have any active arrest warrants. J engages in street outreach 2 hours a week with the PATH Specialists.

J explained that during her years of homelessness, she slept in her truck behind people’s houses and in the woods. There were several times that strangers allowed her to sleep on their couches. According to J, “looking how to get alcohol and drugs 24 hours a day was my job.

She was able to obtain food from local food pantries and meal centers. She reported that she never stayed in homeless shelters. She stated “I was kind of an outcast.

She believes her bad experiences during childhood were what led to her symptoms of mental illness. She referred to her childhood as a nightmare; she was physically abused by her father when she was a child. Her babysitters and her father’s “army buddies” would also rape and beat her. She said when her mom and dad would fight, they wouldn’t feed the kids.

J reported that she abused drugs during the times she was homeless, surmising that her mental illness and drug abuse led to her homelessness. Drugs were her biggest barrier to a better life.  She explained that she does not blame anyone else for the choices that she made.

J She has been stably housed for about 10 years now. She volunteers her spare time at Transitional Living, ensuring that individuals in need receive food, hygiene items, clothes and blankets. She currently receives social security disability and uses a portion of those funds to ensure they receive these items.

Charles Garrison from Fairfield Covenant Community Church generously volunteered his time to teach a sleeping mat making class to Transitional Living volunteers. The mats were made completely out of plastic grocery bags and their purpose is to give homeless individuals a cushioned and dry sleeping area. Unlike blankets, these mats are water resistant, lightweight and easily rolled up and carried. The PATH team at Transitional Living keep these mats in their cars to hand out to homeless individuals that are sleeping outdoors.

J participated in this class and called it “very therapeutic”.  She stated “it occupies some time. It is something to look forward to knowing that you can help someone and give it to someone. It feels good to know you made it with your own hands.

This class appeared to increased confidence for Transitional Living’s mentally ill clients as they were able to be involved with a meaningful activity. This activity was very interactive and challenged clients to continue to try even when they felt like giving up. Individuals worked alone and together. Clients encouraged each other and helped each other to understand the directions. Transitional Living looks forward to planning more activities in the future that both help our mentally ill clients and gives back to our community. J has been a helpful addition to the PATH team as she can directly relate to the individuals we serve.

Butler County’s PATH team’s office is located at Transitional Living. Stacey Arbino, LSW supervises the PATH specialists, Karissa and Marissa. Meghan Parys, LISW is the clinical supervisor over the outreach team.

Summit County – February 2017

We first met S three years ago shortly after he had moved to Akron. He denied having any mental health needs and said he was looking only for a place to shower and do wash clothes periodically while homeless. We noticed S behaved in a paranoid manner, spoke in a way that lacked organization and found it difficult to do laundry. However, he mentioned having earned a degree in chemistry and working as a teacher in the past.

Throughout the years, our PATH team continued to check on S at the outdoor campsite where he was living and allowed him to access the dayroom for services. S did not get along well with other clients and needed redirection and supervision while on-site. S was mistrustful of most staff, but over time developed a rapport with our PATH worker, Shayne. Shayne would attempt to engage S in services and offered to assist S in finding housing, but to no avail; securing employment was S’s focus. Shayne would refer him to supportive employment and help finding him clothing to wear on interviews but unfortunately, S would not follow through with his appointments.

A few months ago, we received a call from the local hospital, stating that they had a patient they would like to connect with our PATH program. After getting more information, we realized it was S. S had gone to the ER for a medical issue and ended up being admitted for psychiatric disturbance.

We felt that this could be our opportunity to finally connect S to services and housing, and we had just the guy to do it: Shayne. Although S had been combative with the doctors and nurses, S’s demeanor changed around Shayne. Shayne was able to get him to agree to look at an apartment for chronically homeless individuals that had just opened up. S liked the unit, agreed to complete an intake with our agency, and even agreed to see a psychiatrist for the first time.

S has been in his apartment for a few months now and while there have been several bumps along the way, he has remained indoors when we thought he would leave. Although he continues to refuse medication and has little insight into his illness, S has been seeing our psychiatrist and has been working with our supportive employment team. S would have never gotten this far had it not been for the kindness and persistence of PATH Outreach Worker, Shayne.

Columbiana County – January 2017

K is a 60 year old Navy Veteran who moved from Columbiana County to Utah in 2015. He was admitted to the Utah State Hospital in August, 2015 and remained hospitalized until May, 2016. K was under civil commitment for numerous misdemeanors, one of which included the charge of Trespassing Keven’s hospital records indicated that he had been living in the forest since his arrival in Utah. At admission, he was extremely paranoid, delusional and unable to take care of his basic needs. When he improved sufficiently for discharge, he asked to return to Columbiana County. The hospital staff contacted the PATH Program to plan for K’s discharge and to coordinate K’s return to Columbiana County. Within discharge planning, hospital staff and the PATH team discussed K’s health needs, which included treatment and monitoring of advanced glaucoma, primary health care and treatment for mental illness. We also discussed support needs, such as reinstatement of K’s Social Security Disability, payeeship, securing necessary identification, linkage to Veteran’s services and safe and stable housing. Because of this careful discharge planning, The PATH program was able to plan well for K’s return. Staff of the hospital accompanied K on the airplane ride to Pittsburgh International Airport; PATH staff arranged for a cab ride from Pittsburgh directly to the Kendall Home Emergency Shelter in Lisbon, Ohio. (The Kendall Home is an emergency shelter that is used exclusively for homeless adults with serious and persistent mental illnesses.)

K was very relieved to be home. He was linked with mental health, primary health and ophthalmology services in a timely way. While at the Kendall Home, he developed acute bronchitis, which was also treated in a timely way. He was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and prescribed oxygen, which he continues to need. 

During his stay at the Kendall Home, PATH staff were able to determine his housing needs and preferences. K did not think he could live independently, as his vision was extremely deteriorated, but did not want to live in a group setting. He described himself as a “loner.” Although initially reluctant to be linked to the Veteran’s Administration, PATH staff were able to persuade him to at least determine what the VA could offer him. This included a VA pension and financial assistance under the VA Aide and Attendance Program. Because of this financial assistance, Keven was able to move into an assisted living facility. This enabled him to have private space, yet receive needed assistance for daily living tasks. This would not have been affordable for K if he did not take advantage of benefits that he had earned through the Veteran’s Administration. PATH staff also helped K obtain identification documents necessary to access other needed benefits and entitlements.

After several months in Assisted Living, K decided to move in with a friend who provides support K needs. This is a safe and stable setting, and K prefers this home atmosphere to the atmosphere in assisted living.

While involved in the PATH program, K established a friendship with one of the PATH volunteers, a person with serious mental illness who was previously homeless. They remain friends to this day!

K continues to receive case management and payeeship services through the Counseling Center. He receives other health services and supports through the Veteran’s Administration and health specialists.

I called K yesterday, prior to writing this article. He said, “I am happy, Chris and that is all I ever wanted out of life!! We are very proud of K. Without the targeted and organized assistance from the PATH program, K’s transition back to Columbiana County and his access to services and supports needed for his recovery would not have gone nearly as smoothly.