By Ashley McCarty –
The third local community meeting was held on September 10 with General Manager Craig Gullion of Compass Point Housing to discuss the issue of homelessness.
Those in attendance were Gullion, Jason Francis, Donna Young, Ryan Myers, Chelsea Blevins, Brett Spencer, Sarah Thomas and Shawnda Prater.
“I appreciate Jason asking me to attend the meetings. If we had known about a previous meeting, we would have come to this,” Gullion said.
Gullion explained that Compass Point Housing is an independent, nonprofit organization affiliated with The Counseling Center, Inc.
“Our role at Compass Point Housing is to find and maintain housing that we consider reclaiming housing for people in treatment for substance use disorders. We accept referrals from the Advice Center. The counseling center not only provides these referrals, but they also provide recovery support services, and it is the staff members who work in these homes, they also provide transportation and outpatient services that these people attend” , Gullion said.
Compass Point Housing communicates with The Counseling Center, Inc. in which the center explains what their needs are and where they are.
“Our role is to find those properties and be able to meet those needs, but also to work with the local mental health and addictions services board. They’re trying to assess where the needs are not just for addictions, but also for mental health,” Gullion said.
The Counseling Center, Inc. works with referral sources to place individuals accordingly where places are available. According to The Counseling Center, Inc., 90% are legal referrals, 10% are voluntary.
Gullion explained that Compass Point Housing has three different levels of housing, levels one, two and three, respectively. Tier three accommodations are staffed 24 hours a day, while tier two is more peer-run with some staff oversight. These individuals are always connected to Counseling Center, Inc. treatment services and job readiness.
“This group will work to fill the void for people leaving the program. After they leave, they either become homeless or they kind of come back into this cycle. We will work to find a solution for people who are leaving,” Francis said.
Gullion said that while he does not work for The Counseling Center, Inc., Francis might want to get in touch with them to discuss their three-page policy on the procedures they follow when a client leaves the program. .
“I was hoping that a rep from the Adams County homeless shelter would be here, but one of the issues they have is, when they get a person who uses, or has a warrant, or, s If they leave the program, if they are subject to a court order and they leave, then they would have a warrant for their arrest. So the homeless shelter can’t take them, and if they’re already in that cycle of drug use, the homeless shelter can’t take them, so they either end up in the woods in a tent , either at the funfair or the lake. That’s the gap we’re trying to fill,” Francis said.
The Counseling Center, Inc. in Portsmouth transports people to appropriate housing; the group questioned whether the center could also return the individuals.
“There are a lot of our people who are dual diagnosed, and probably 85% or 90% of them have trauma. They have experienced trauma in their lives and many complex issues that have led them down the path they are on now,” Gullion said.
Gullion said there are three dwellings of each level in the county.
“Mainly there are peers living there, but then they are supervised by the staff; there is not necessarily someone there 24/7. There is a house that we visited, there was an office that was locked, but there was no one in the office at the time. They have different office hours there. People who live in Tier 2 work, not only go to treatment services, but they also work trying to find jobs and get jobs and stuff like that as well. So they may have different times when someone is there to work with them, and it’s more like case management at that time,” Gullion said.
Francis revealed that not all homeless people are associated with The Counseling Center, Inc. and Compass Point Housing.
“We are very concerned about – and I know the counseling center is too – about reaching out to those who may be suffering from mental health or addictions issues who find themselves homeless. So maybe they can have some kind of help with some kind of outreach to be able to go to where these people are, contact them,” Gullion said.
Part of the outreach could involve Shawnee Mental Health, he added.
Francis said he would put together a catalog of services for those targeted.
“One of the things we can do with this coordinated plan is that there is now a document with all the possible treatment plans available. If someone says they need help, here is your reference guide Some of the goals we had [were] not just to contact the counseling center, but to start a program with the homeless shelter to help that organization get funding for more housing, possibly more cameras, that sort of thing. So there will be a resource guide and there will also be work goals that we can work towards,” Francis said.
The group also discussed how mental health affects homelessness, substance abuse and crime, as well as the lifelong education of these individuals.
“I most definitely know McDonald’s, 40 hour week, or even Columbus Industries, or even working full time doing average, walk-in, no college degree is between $11-$15/hour, and with most rents here being $600-$700/month for a trailer, when you look at that, it doesn’t seem feasible. So maybe we could also focus a bit more on education,” Thomas said.
Francis said that was one of the things they were working on. Spencer briefed Thomas on the future of Prather’s old IGA building.
It was announced earlier this year that Adams County received a $2.3 million grant from the Ohio Development Services Agency to renovate and convert the former IGA building into a development and training center for labor.
“So what this program is is exactly what you’re talking about,” Spencer said. Spencer said there will be six to eight professional programs that will be available at the training center.
“There will be all kinds of levels of vocational training, there will also be the possibility of obtaining a high school diploma as well as professional certification. It’s something exciting, it’s one of the most exciting things I’ve seen in a long time. They are planning January to February, I pray it will be available by May 2021. I would love after 14 years to focus on this kind of professional training and education. Give them a good job and life skills training,” Spencer said.