Mental Health Awareness Month brings to mind 51 individual stories for LaTasha Bolden, who manages two programs providing housing plus ongoing support like counseling, help with benefits and other assistance. At least 80 percent of the residents in our Palm Court and Housing at Last programs have been diagnosed with a mental illness.
“People come to us after being in survival mode for awhile, often straight from encampments or from the street. It’s really challenging for some of them at first,” LaTasha says. Before coming to Homeward Bound, most have spent long periods lacking mental health care, as well as medical or dental care, and without a place to call home.
Despite their struggles, LaTasha says the majority of her 51 residents have passed a year in their apartments, managed to live with roommates, with more than half employed in positions where they’re thriving. They formed a Residents’ Council to share problem-solving needs and plan events like barbecues, movie nights, or bocce ball. Last year, 90 percent of residents in our mental health programs remained housed.
One two-year resident who spent years without housing now works at a local discount store, has begun saving for a car and recently took her driver’s license test. She reconnected with her family, who had been looking for her for a decade.
“The mental health field has come a long way in recognizing that it’s not just about what’s wrong, but also what is working well and how we can build on that,” LaTasha says. “When they can settle into housing, people become their own advocate and I love to see them start to advocate for others.”