Make It A Home Always (MIHA) is a HUD funded Supported Housing Program to help secure housing for individuals who have been diagnosed with mental illness, may also have a substance use history and/or been in the criminal justice system . This program is to identify individuals diagnosed with serious mental illness who meet federal homeless guidelines. MIHA staff also Identify Consumer Friendly Landlords who are interested in renting to participants of the program.
Consumers meeting the program criteria will be assigned a Housing Case Manager who will find them a one bedroom apartment in a safe environment in a geographic area of the consumer's choice and will help them acquire basic furnishings if needed. If the person is without a source of income at the time of program entry, MIHA will pay one hundred percent of the cost up to two years as long as the participant is in full compliance with program requirements and expectations. If the participant has an income source MIHA will ask them to pay thirty percent of the income toward rent if financially able. At the time of enrollment the consumer is also offered the opportunity of having a Peer Support available to assist with pursuit of larger issues of mental health recovery.
MIHA maintains regular contact with the landlords as well as the participants of the program. The Housing Case Manager will assist residents in navigating the various community systems and provide advocacy and referrals as needed with other services and supports including natural supports in the community.
The overall goal of MIHA is to help participants become self-sufficient within a two year timeframe and become productive and integrated back into society.
Congratulations to Charles Gauley who reached financial and residential self-sufficiency and was able to graduate from the MIHA program this summer. Chuck was homeless and had few resources prior to being accepted into the MIHA program. His history with mental health, substance use, and criminal justice had reduced his potential for housing success. He was able to take full advantage of the support offered by MIHA to establish a residence, link with support and treatment services and develop an income source. He is now living his life independent of the MIHA program but remains an active and valued member of the MHA Recovery Center where he participates in a variety of activities that promote recovery and mental health consumer empowerment.
Clifton McNair, MIHA with Charles Gauley
From:Region III HUDLine News, February 2015. Reprinted with permission:
Sometimes the right people come together to do the right thing at the right time. That is certainly true in Erie, Pa.
"Make It a Home Always" is a HUD funded program of the Mental Health Association of Northwestern PA. Seemingly, it works with the most difficult residents to place including those who have been incarcerated, who have been diagnosed with mental illness and who are currently homeless and seeking an apartment in the private housing market. But, that is not the case in Erie. Debra Geotz, a private landlord, states she is honored to be involved in this tenant landlord relationship.
The question posed to Clifton McNair III, a Housing Case Manager, was this: "What makes this program so successful?"
In part the answer lies with the work done by Clifton, over time, with each and every one of the ten landlords involved in this program. Relationships are cultivated and fostered with landlords through monthly contact.
Landlords are paid at the end of month for the next month; landlords are given 24 hour access to the housing case manager, and have access to a landlord repair fund, if needed, for damages done by tenants not just wear and tear.
There is a genuine relationship between the agency, tenant and landlord. Communication lines are always open and maintained seamlessly.
Lastly, social service referral and linkage is navigated by the housing case manager and the tenant together.
The two year goal is to re-integrate all tenants into self-sufficiency, and that is exactly what is happening through these extraordinary efforts.