[Hpn] HOMELESS ARE GETTING THEIR OWN APARTMENTS

William Charles Tinker wtinker@metrocast.net
Tue, 16 Aug 2005 17:41:44 -0400


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Homing in on the city homeless

SLC program gives homeless their own apartment for 2 years

      By Kirsten Stewart=20
      The Salt Lake Tribune =20



    =20
          =20
                 =20
              Deepak Sachdev relaxes in his new apartment before putting =
away the few items he brought with him in grocery bags. See more photos. =
(Paul Fraughton/The Salt Lake Tribune)   =20
          =20
      Disconnected from family and mainstream society, Mark Ewart has =
spent much of the past seven years in an alcohol-induced haze, slipping =
in and out of jobs, homeless shelters and consciousness. It is no =
wonder, then, that he insists on an alarm clock radio as essential for =
plugging back into life.=20
          "I'll need this for work," says Ewart, pulling the clock from =
a tangle of second-hand electronics at Deseret Industries. "If you're =
not up at 6 a.m. at the shelter, you get woken up. My drinking tends to =
get in my way of my working."=20
         Just yesterday, Ewart was so inebriated he missed his lease =
signing. But the lanky 45-year-old is sober today, Thursday, as social =
workers help him load up a shopping cart with bath, bedding and kitchen =
items and later drop him off at a small one-bedroom apartment - his home =
for the foreseeable future.=20
         Ewart is among the first of 17 men and women to take part in a =
Salt Lake City housing experiment that may change the way Utah combats =
chronic homelessness. For 24 months, they will be put up in subsidized =
apartments scattered throughout the city, where the only rules will be =
those imposed by society.=20
          Traditionally, the homeless are offered temporary housing =
after they are made "housing ready" by undergoing psychiatric =
evaluations or quitting drugs and alcohol. All that will be asked of =
Ewart is that he agree to weekly visits by a team of caseworkers who =
will surround him with medical care, job training and counseling - but =
only if he asks for it.=20
          This consumer-driven, "housing-first" approach =20
                =20
          =20
      is relatively new to Utah and a departure from a conventional =
wisdom that street-tough transients are unwilling or incapable of =
staying housed.=20
         But homeless advocates have come to realize the fault lies with =
conventional forms of treatment, not the chronically homeless.=20
         Assuming they are right, Salt Lake City's two-year pilot =
project may become the template for the state's 10-year plan to move =
2,950 chronically homeless off the streets, out of shelters and into =
permanent housing.=20
         The chronically homeless comprise only 12 percent of Utah's =
23,700 homeless, an annual estimate drawn from counts of people living =
on the streets and intermittently using soup kitchens, shelters - and =
jails. But they are the costliest to serve, consuming 57 percent of the =
resources.=20
         Most are middle-age men with a history of mental illness =
compounded by substance abuse. For decades, they have eluded efforts to =
help them become self-sufficient.=20
         "We're asking them to help us help them. Obviously, the regular =
stuff doesn't work, so let's see what happens," said Kathy Bray, who =
heads the homeless outreach efforts at Volunteers of America.=20
         Bray and staff at the Road Home shelter and Valley Mental =
Health are teaming up to provide case management for the tenants.=20
         Footing most of the $2 million bill for the pilot project are =
the city housing authority and the state. The goal is to see what works =
and doesn't work before the grand opening of a 100-unit city housing =
project for the chronically homeless in 2007.=20
         Most of Utah's chronically homeless, defined as those who don't =
have a home for more than a year or find themselves homeless four times =
over three years, are clustered in Salt Lake City and Ogden. In Salt =
Lake City, commercial redevelopment near the Road Home - anchored by The =
Gateway mall - has generated political pressure to move the homeless to =
cheaper real estate.=20
         But state Homeless Task Force director Lloyd Pendleton says the =
motive behind the 10-year plan is not to sweep the streets free of =
transients. Rather, it's built on the belief that housing is a basic =
right and the hope that stable housing will translate to stable lives.=20
         "If you can get people into a safe, stable home they can then =
begin to take care of other problems," says Pendleton.=20
         Deepak Sachdev, also part of the pilot project and Ewart's =
neighbor, is optimistic.=20
         Sachdev turns 56 this month. Married and divorced twice, he has =
two adult children living in Reno, Nev., whom he hasn't seen for 12 =
years, the time he has spent cycling in and out of homelessness and =
jobs.=20
         Since 1995, he has been arrested or cited by police eight times =
for crimes ranging from jaywalking and public intoxication to attempted =
aggravated assault.=20
         Transitional housing hasn't worked for Sachdev, who was =
personally offended when housing case managers nosed around in his =
dresser or refrigerator looking for booze or drugs.=20
         "Whenever I heard a knock on the door, I had to hide the beer," =
says a graying and balding Sachdev. "When last I checked, alcohol was =
legal. I mean, I'm old and set in my ways."=20
         Under the housing-first model, Sachdev will be free to do as he =
pleases, so long as it's legal.=20
         The approach is modeled after a program in New York City =
regarded as the new standard for treating the chronically homeless. One =
study showed 84 percent of those in Pathways stayed housed, compared =
with an average 23 percent success rate of other New York housing =
programs.=20
         Utah advocates hope the Pathways model also saves money. It is =
estimated to cost $6,080 to put a person in housing and provide them =
services for a year. Possible alternatives - beds in shelters, a county =
jail, the state prison or state hospital cost much more.=20
         "It most certainly will free up our emergency shelters," says =
Matt Minkevitch, director of the Road Home, the state's largest homeless =
shelter, with a waiting list 60 to 80 people long.=20
         Turnover is quick, with a wait of two to three weeks, but only =
because people are limited to 90-day stays, said Minkevitch.=20
         Whether the Utah project will empower tenants to better their =
lives is less certain.=20
         "You can be sure someone is going to succeed and they crash and =
burn. And you can be sure someone is going to fail and they surprise =
you. It's just people," said Minkevitch.=20
         Sachdev is jobless and without money for food or bus fare. One =
day into the experiment, he is "grateful" for the comforts of having his =
own apartment, such as being able to bathe in private, but misses the =
security and camaraderie of communal living at the shelter.=20
         "I've been in the shelter for so long. I know how to get what I =
need there," said Sachdev. "I'll feel better once I'm settled in."=20
         The theory behind scattered housing is that it forces the =
homeless out of their comfort zones and reliance on "the system." It =
also gets them away from people who prey on them, such as drug dealers.=20
         Sachdev's utilities are covered, along with the $375 monthly =
rent.=20
         The Department of Workforce Services has committed to helping =
him secure permanent disability payments, after which he'll be =
responsible for 30 percent of the rent.=20
         Melanie Zamora, housing director at the Road Home, believes 85 =
percent of the tenants may be eligible for such benefits. But assuming =
they don't qualify, she says, "we'll look at other government aid and =
employment options."=20
         Still, there's a chance that tenants will decide that the four =
walls of their bedrooms are more confining than comforting.=20
         On a visit to Utah last month, Pathways founder Sam Tsembersis =
says some of his New York clients would disappear for weeks at a time, =
or prefer to sleep on their apartment building's lobby floor.=20
         "It's a huge adjustment for some to make," Tsembersis said.=20
         When caseworkers told Ewart about the housing opportunity, he =
asked, "Really? For two weeks or what?"=20
         He still wonders if "there's some catch" and whether he'll lose =
his spot at the shelter if the apartment falls through, but says, "What =
do I have to lose?"=20
         kstewart@sltrib.com=20
         =20
         The experiment=20
         Seventeen chronically homeless men and women will live in =
subsidized apartments scattered around Salt Lake City. They are not =
required to first enter drug or alcohol treatment or get a job.=20
         =20
          Will it work? One study of New York City's similar Pathways =
program showed 84 percent stayed in housing, compared with an average 23 =
percent success rate of the city's other housing programs.=20
          Cost: $2 million for the pilot project.=20
          Who pays for it: The city housing authority and the state.=20
          Cost comparison, per year:=20
         $6,080: Putting a person in housing and providing services=20
         $6,580: A shelter bed=20
         $25,550: A bed at the Salt Lake County Jail=20
         $35,000: A bed at the state prison=20
         $146,730: A bed at Utah State Hospital=20
          =20


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<DIV><!-- overline--><!--title--><STRONG><SPAN =
class=3DarticleTitle>Homing in on=20
the city homeless</SPAN></STRONG></DIV>
<DIV><STRONG><SPAN class=3DarticleTitle></SPAN><BR><!--subtitle--><FONT=20
size=3D2><FONT color=3D#888888><SPAN class=3DarticleSubTitle>SLC program =
gives=20
homeless their own apartment for 2=20
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class=3DarticleByline><A=20
      class=3DarticleByline href=3D"mailto:kstewart@sltrib.com"><FONT=20
      color=3D#000000>By Kirsten Stewart <BR>The Salt Lake =
Tribune</FONT></A>=20
      </SPAN></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE></DIV>
<DIV><BR></DIV></SPAN>
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          <TD><!--
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            =
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            href=3D"http://sltrib.com/utah/ci_2945429#"><IMG title=3D"" =
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          <TD><IMG =
src=3D"http://extras.mnginteractive.com/live/std/clear.gif"=20
            width=3D5 border=3D0> </TD>
          <TD class=3DarticleImageCaption>Deepak Sachdev relaxes in his =
new=20
            apartment before putting away the few items he brought with =
him in=20
            grocery bags. <A=20
            =
href=3D"http://extras.sltrib.com/tribphoto/galleryPhotos.asp?GID=3DCHRON_=
0816&amp;sort=3DGallery">See=20
            more photos.</A> (Paul Fraughton/The Salt Lake Tribune) =
</TD>
          <TD><IMG =
src=3D"http://extras.mnginteractive.com/live/std/clear.gif"=20
            width=3D5 border=3D0> </TD></TR>
        <TR>
          <TD colSpan=3D3><IMG height=3D5=20
            src=3D"http://extras.mnginteractive.com/live/std/clear.gif" =
width=3D1=20
            border=3D0></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>Disconnected from =
family and mainstream=20
      society, Mark Ewart has spent much of the past seven years in an=20
      alcohol-induced haze, slipping in and out of jobs, homeless =
shelters and=20
      consciousness. It is no wonder, then, that he insists on an alarm =
clock=20
      radio as essential for plugging back into life. =
<BR>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;=20
      "I'll need this for work," says Ewart, pulling the clock from a =
tangle of=20
      second-hand electronics at Deseret Industries. "If you're not up =
at 6 a.m.=20
      at the shelter, you get woken up. My drinking tends to get in my =
way of my=20
      working." <BR>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;Just yesterday, Ewart was so =
inebriated he=20
      missed his lease signing. But the lanky 45-year-old is sober =
today,=20
      Thursday, as social workers help him load up a shopping cart with =
bath,=20
      bedding and kitchen items and later drop him off at a small =
one-bedroom=20
      apartment - his home for the foreseeable future.=20
      <BR>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;Ewart is among the first of 17 men and women =
to take=20
      part in a Salt Lake City housing experiment that may change the =
way Utah=20
      combats chronic homelessness. For 24 months, they will be put up =
in=20
      subsidized apartments scattered throughout the city, where the =
only rules=20
      will be those imposed by society. <BR>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; =
Traditionally,=20
      the homeless are offered temporary housing after they are made =
"housing=20
      ready" by undergoing psychiatric evaluations or quitting drugs and =

      alcohol. All that will be asked of Ewart is that he agree to =
weekly visits=20
      by a team of caseworkers who will surround him with medical care, =
job=20
      training and counseling - but only if he asks for it.=20
      <BR>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; This consumer-driven, "housing-first" =
approach=20
      <TABLE cellSpacing=3D0 cellPadding=3D0 width=3D120 align=3Dright =
border=3D0>
        <TBODY>
        <TR>
          <TD>
            <TABLE class=3DotherArticlesBox width=3D120>
              <TBODY>
              <TR>
                <TD class=3DotherArticlesHead width=3D120><FONT=20
                  class=3DotherArticlesTitle></FONT></TD></TR>
              <TR>
                <TD width=3D120>
                  <DIV=20
          =
class=3DotherArticlesBullet>&nbsp;</DIV></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE></TD></=
TR></TBODY></TABLE>is=20
      relatively new to Utah and a departure from a conventional wisdom =
that=20
      street-tough transients are unwilling or incapable of staying =
housed.=20
      <BR>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;But homeless advocates have come to realize =
the=20
      fault lies with conventional forms of treatment, not the =
chronically=20
      homeless. <BR>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;Assuming they are right, Salt Lake =
City's=20
      two-year pilot project may become the template for the state's =
10-year=20
      plan to move 2,950 chronically homeless off the streets, out of =
shelters=20
      and into permanent housing. <BR>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;The chronically =
homeless=20
      comprise only 12 percent of Utah's 23,700 homeless, an annual =
estimate=20
      drawn from counts of people living on the streets and =
intermittently using=20
      soup kitchens, shelters - and jails. But they are the costliest to =
serve,=20
      consuming 57 percent of the resources. <BR>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;Most =
are=20
      middle-age men with a history of mental illness compounded by =
substance=20
      abuse. For decades, they have eluded efforts to help them become=20
      self-sufficient. <BR>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;"We're asking them to help =
us help=20
      them. Obviously, the regular stuff doesn't work, so let's see what =

      happens," said Kathy Bray, who heads the homeless outreach efforts =
at=20
      Volunteers of America. <BR>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;Bray and staff at the =
Road=20
      Home shelter and Valley Mental Health are teaming up to provide =
case=20
      management for the tenants. <BR>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;Footing most of =
the $2=20
      million bill for the pilot project are the city housing authority =
and the=20
      state. The goal is to see what works and doesn't work before the =
grand=20
      opening of a 100-unit city housing project for the chronically =
homeless in=20
      2007. <BR>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;Most of Utah's chronically homeless, =
defined=20
      as those who don't have a home for more than a year or find =
themselves=20
      homeless four times over three years, are clustered in Salt Lake =
City and=20
      Ogden. In Salt Lake City, commercial redevelopment near the Road =
Home -=20
      anchored by The Gateway mall - has generated political pressure to =
move=20
      the homeless to cheaper real estate. <BR>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;But =
state=20
      Homeless Task Force director Lloyd Pendleton says the motive =
behind the=20
      10-year plan is not to sweep the streets free of transients. =
Rather, it's=20
      built on the belief that housing is a basic right and the hope =
that stable=20
      housing will translate to stable lives. <BR>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;"If =
you can=20
      get people into a safe, stable home they can then begin to take =
care of=20
      other problems," says Pendleton. <BR>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;Deepak =
Sachdev,=20
      also part of the pilot project and Ewart's neighbor, is =
optimistic.=20
      <BR>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;Sachdev turns 56 this month. Married and =
divorced=20
      twice, he has two adult children living in Reno, Nev., whom he =
hasn't seen=20
      for 12 years, the time he has spent cycling in and out of =
homelessness and=20
      jobs. <BR>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;Since 1995, he has been arrested or =
cited by=20
      police eight times for crimes ranging from jaywalking and public=20
      intoxication to attempted aggravated assault.=20
      <BR>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;Transitional housing hasn't worked for =
Sachdev, who=20
      was personally offended when housing case managers nosed around in =
his=20
      dresser or refrigerator looking for booze or drugs.=20
      <BR>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;"Whenever I heard a knock on the door, I had =
to hide=20
      the beer," says a graying and balding Sachdev. "When last I =
checked,=20
      alcohol was legal. I mean, I'm old and set in my ways."=20
      <BR>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;Under the housing-first model, Sachdev will =
be free=20
      to do as he pleases, so long as it's legal. =
<BR>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;The=20
      approach is modeled after a program in New York City regarded as =
the new=20
      standard for treating the chronically homeless. One study showed =
84=20
      percent of those in Pathways stayed housed, compared with an =
average 23=20
      percent success rate of other New York housing programs.=20
      <BR>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;Utah advocates hope the Pathways model also =
saves=20
      money. It is estimated to cost $6,080 to put a person in housing =
and=20
      provide them services for a year. Possible alternatives - beds in=20
      shelters, a county jail, the state prison or state hospital cost =
much=20
      more. <BR>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;"It most certainly will free up our =
emergency=20
      shelters," says Matt Minkevitch, director of the Road Home, the =
state's=20
      largest homeless shelter, with a waiting list 60 to 80 people =
long.=20
      <BR>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;Turnover is quick, with a wait of two to =
three=20
      weeks, but only because people are limited to 90-day stays, said=20
      Minkevitch. <BR>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;Whether the Utah project will =
empower=20
      tenants to better their lives is less certain. =
<BR>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;"You=20
      can be sure someone is going to succeed and they crash and burn. =
And you=20
      can be sure someone is going to fail and they surprise you. It's =
just=20
      people," said Minkevitch. <BR>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;Sachdev is jobless =
and=20
      without money for food or bus fare. One day into the experiment, =
he is=20
      "grateful" for the comforts of having his own apartment, such as =
being=20
      able to bathe in private, but misses the security and camaraderie =
of=20
      communal living at the shelter. <BR>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;"I've been =
in the=20
      shelter for so long. I know how to get what I need there," said =
Sachdev.=20
      "I'll feel better once I'm settled in." <BR>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;The =
theory=20
      behind scattered housing is that it forces the homeless out of =
their=20
      comfort zones and reliance on "the system." It also gets them away =
from=20
      people who prey on them, such as drug dealers.=20
      <BR>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;Sachdev's utilities are covered, along with =
the $375=20
      monthly rent. <BR>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;The Department of Workforce =
Services=20
      has committed to helping him secure permanent disability payments, =
after=20
      which he'll be responsible for 30 percent of the rent.=20
      <BR>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;Melanie Zamora, housing director at the Road =
Home,=20
      believes 85 percent of the tenants may be eligible for such =
benefits. But=20
      assuming they don't qualify, she says, "we'll look at other =
government aid=20
      and employment options." <BR>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;Still, there's a =
chance=20
      that tenants will decide that the four walls of their bedrooms are =
more=20
      confining than comforting. <BR>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;On a visit to =
Utah last=20
      month, Pathways founder Sam Tsembersis says some of his New York =
clients=20
      would disappear for weeks at a time, or prefer to sleep on their =
apartment=20
      building's lobby floor. <BR>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;"It's a huge =
adjustment for=20
      some to make," Tsembersis said. <BR>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;When =
caseworkers=20
      told Ewart about the housing opportunity, he asked, "Really? For =
two weeks=20
      or what?" <BR>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;He still wonders if "there's some =
catch"=20
      and whether he'll lose his spot at the shelter if the apartment =
falls=20
      through, but says, "What do I have to lose?"=20
      <BR>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;<B>kstewart@sltrib.com</B> =
<BR>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;=20
      <BR>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;The experiment =
<BR>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;Seventeen=20
      chronically homeless men and women will live in subsidized =
apartments=20
      scattered around Salt Lake City. They are not required to first =
enter drug=20
      or alcohol treatment or get a job. <BR>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;=20
      <BR>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Will it work? One study of New York City's =
similar=20
      Pathways program showed 84 percent stayed in housing, compared =
with an=20
      average 23 percent success rate of the city's other housing =
programs.=20
      <BR>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Cost: $2 million for the pilot project.=20
      <BR>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Who pays for it: The city housing authority =
and the=20
      state. <BR>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Cost comparison, per year:=20
      <BR>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;$6,080: Putting a person in housing and =
providing=20
      services <BR>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;$6,580: A shelter bed=20
      <BR>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;$25,550: A bed at the Salt Lake County Jail=20
      <BR>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;$35,000: A bed at the state prison=20
      <BR>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;$146,730: A bed at Utah State Hospital=20
      <BR>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE></DIV>
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