Program Spotlight: ARC Housing First

Apr 23, 2024

The transition from living unhoused to securing shelter is a difficult one, especially when the individual doesn’t have the mental health resources needed to stabilize. Once housing is acquired, said Program Manager Dave Katzenmeyer, it’s common for individuals to lose it within three months when they don’t have adequate support. When bolstered by the ARC Housing First program, the client has a team of people walking with them every step of the way.

Newly revamped to integrate both Adult Rehabilitative Mental Health Services (ARMHS) and Behavioral Health Home (BHH) services within one programmatic model, ARC Housing First operates with a clear mission: to help individuals experiencing homelessness secure and maintain housing stability.

Currently serving nearly 100 clients, the program team of five aims to provide tangible support, navigate complex systems and resources, and ensure that clients stabilize during their transition into housing. Once housing is secured, ARMHS practitioners step in to support with housing maintenance, which includes everything from skill-building to managing rent payments to finding and maintaining employment.

In addition to newly integrating multiple services within one model, ARC Housing First is also accepting internal referrals from other People Incorporated programs. For example, if Corrections Integrated Support (CIS) staff encounter a client experiencing housing instability post-incarceration, they can refer that individual to ARC Housing First to receive the compassionate support they need to secure safe and stable housing.

What is ARMHS?

ARMHS aims to help individuals develop independent living skills, work on interpersonal communication, secure and maintain employment, manage their mental health symptoms, and build a healthy lifestyle. These specialized services are useful for individuals who have experienced decreased functioning abilities due to mental health concerns, and it’s an ideal service for those integrating back into their community.

What is BHH?

BHH is a model of care that focuses on integrating primary care, mental health services, and social services for individuals diagnosed with a mental illness. The multidisciplinary approach of BHH creates a care plan that is person-centered and tailored to the individual’s needs, which is much aligned with People Incorporated’s mission. BHH services aim to help the individual reach their personal health and wellness goals.

What is the benefit of integrating these services within ARC Housing First?

Fusing BHH and ARMHS with ARC Housing Support creates person-centered pathways to housing access so that each client can maintain housing over a long period of time. It is a way to provide consistent, uninterrupted support as the client stabilizes and works towards long-term independence.

“We know integration works. It’s a best practice,” said Jessica Hill, Director of Operations. “The goal of integrated these programs together came from wondering how we as an organization can work together to offer connections to other programs. It fits within our mission and vision of the integrated care model, and it provides better outcomes.”

Benefits abound for clients being referred to ARC Housing First from another People Incorporated program. Clients coming directly out of Intensive Residential Treatment Services (IRTS) program get an automatic 3-month approval, which minimizes their risk of having to return to being unsheltered and going through the system all over again.

“For clients, there’s a warm hand-off between services when working within the same agency like we are,” said Katzenmeyer. “That transition is going to be more successful for folks because it’s likely to be friendlier and it doesn’t interrupt their continuum of care.”

The ARC Housing First Program exemplifies the power of compassion, collaboration, and commitment in addressing homelessness. By prioritizing housing as the first step toward stability, the program not only transforms lives but also builds stronger, more resilient communities for us all.

Interested in supporting this crucial and ongoing work? You can make a gift to People Incorporated through the Give page on our website.