Finding Solutions to End Chronic Homelessness
On August 27, 2017, Nicole Leonard of the Press of Atlantic City published a story, “Cumberland experts tackle chronic homelessness to decrease ER visits.”
The article reports on the M25 Housing First Collaborative in Cumberland County which works to end chronic homelessness as they are also frequent users of the Inspira Medical Center Vineland. The chronically homeless were using the Medical Center to escape the cold, have a bed or for a meal.
“We often see these patients turn to the ER for primary care,” said Dr. Scott Wagner, chairman of emergency medicine at Inspira Vineland, Bridgeton and Elmer. “We’re able to see what a huge barrier homelessness can be. To prevent the re-occurrence of (medical) symptoms, they need more.”
M25 Initiative is a nonprofit organization made up of leaders in Cumberland County, religious groups, social service experts, housing experts and others who also developed the Cumberland County Code Blue Coalition and a mini-grant program. A goal of M25 is to end chronic homelessness in Cumberland County by 2020. Read our previous report on Working to End Homelessness in Cumberland County by 2020.
Leaders at Inspira support the goal of ending chronic homelessness in the county and it made a $50,000 donation to Housing First in July.
M25 received 42 housing vouchers from the State of New Jersey and the M25 Initiative hopes to house chronically homeless individuals in their new apartments by the end of October.
NJCounts 2017 coordinated by Monarch Housing Associates found that while the number of homeless people in New Jersey seemed to be down from last year, the number of chronically homeless increased. NJCounts 2017 found 151 homeless people in Cumberland County, the report says.
“Robin Weinstein, M25 founder and president, said people at hospitals and jails are on the front lines of seeing chronically homeless residents. With their work in the housing program, Weinstein said experts can better identify people who could avoid ER visits and incarceration with secured housing.”
Dave Moore, executive director of behavioral health at Inspira, told the following story about a former Inspira client, “He would go in just get out of the cold, get something to eat or for a health condition exacerbated by the elements from being outside,” he said. “A simple cut could lead to hospitalization, and that can be very costly. That could have been remedied from a shower and a roof over their heads.”
Says Moore “If we don’t find a way to chip away at the long-term housing needs of a person who is homeless, your health efforts and discharge plans won’t keep that person stable in the community. When we do find a solution for them, it’s a profound feeling when you look into someone’s eyes when they are taken off the streets.”