Some homeless individuals have problems that seem intractable – debilitating physical, mental and addiction issues that keep them in a cycle of homelessness. Central City Concern understands that the approach to the problems that afflict homeless people must be comprehensive. The Community Engagement Program (CEP) is a multidisciplinary recovery model designed to meet the needs of chronically homeless individuals with co-occurring mental health, addiction disorders and/or physical concerns.
The initial goal for a person entering the CEP program is to help them obtain safe housing. Once they have a safe place to live, participants can begin to take the necessary steps toward recovery. CEP staff partner with physicians, mental health practitioners, social workers and vocational counselors to create a plan for each participant. Case managers continue to stay active with individual’s housing needs, connecting them to housing that is treatment oriented and eventually to secure permanent housing.
The staff-participant ratio is 1-15. The team of care givers checks in regularly with each client so responses are concerted, timely and provide a continuity of care which is best for each individual.
The CEP model is proven to be most successful in helping the homeless in their recovery efforts and in helping them to pursue full, productive lives.
In 2004, the Community Engagement Program established a storefront community center in the heart of the Burnside neighborhood. It is a gathering place to read, listen to music, eat, talk – a place for homeless individuals to find camaraderie, to develop friendships, to begin learning life skills and to become part of a community. The CEP Center receives support from local businesses and other community resources to provide food, beverages and other basic necessities.
For more than 200 people in this program, 99% remained in housing one year after enrollment at an overall program cost that was 36% lower than services typically associated with this population - police, shelters and emergency rooms. Detailed study here.