The supportive services and housing that VSH offers its residents help to change their lives through measures both large and small. Whether it’s providing a roof over someone’s head or helping them get the support they need, our work improves the lives of our residents in meaningful ways. By combining real estate development, property management, and supportive services, VSH delivers a unified approach to the mission of ending homelessness. Our model ensures better teamwork and coordination that deliver results in Central Virginia.
Our programs and services in Central Virginia include:
Assertive Community Treatment (ACT)
Formerly known as A Place to Start, ACT at VSH was created in 2007 to provide intensive mental health services and permanent housing to individuals who have a history of chronic homelessness and psychiatric hospitalization due to severe and persistent mental illness. In 2021, the program transitioned to the ACT model, licensed by the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services.
ACT is an evidence-based best-practice model designed specifically for serving individuals experiencing severe mental illness. Services include housing stabilization, assistance with benefits, securing income, supportive counseling, medication education and management, healthcare coordination, vocational and education support, substance use treatment, and crisis stabilization. Participants are referred through the coordinated entry process, which consists of a group of providers that operates through the Greater Richmond Continuum of Care and serves as the centralized access point for those who are experiencing homelessness.
The ACT team consists of the Team Leader, Program Assistant, Nurse, Psychiatrist or Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, Certified Peer Recovery Specialist, Substance Abuse Specialist, Vocational Specialist, Housing Specialist, and Qualified Mental Health Professionals.
Key program features:
- Teammates work 24/7/365. There is always someone out in the field, even at night, on weekends, and on holidays, making visits and checking in.
- The team works collaboratively with every program participant. Rather than individual caseloads, the team together meets with each client, develops their service plan, and does the paperwork.
- Every interaction is face to face. Teammates work directly with clients to keep them aligned with program requirements, increase personal accountability, and forge stronger connections.
ACT at VSH is the only ACT program in Virginia run by a nonprofit, as well as the only ACT program that provides housing.
Read more about the ACT program in our September 2021 newsletter.
The HomeLink program was established in 2011 and provides affordable rental housing in the form of a rental subsidy for scattered site apartments in the community, along with intensive case management services.
HomeLink serves single adults with a documented disability (chronic medical condition, mental illness, and/or substance abuse disorder), who have experienced long or repeated episodes of homelessness. HomeLink also specializes in serving individuals with a history of incarcerations.
Individuals are referred through the coordinated entry process, which consists of a group of providers that operates through the Greater Richmond Continuum of Care (GRCoC) and serves as the centralized access point for those who are experiencing homelessness.
The HomeLink team consists of the Program Manager, Housing Specialist, and Supportive Services Specialists. Housing Specialists assist program participants in finding, applying for and securing housing. Supportive Services Specialists work with program participants weekly to ensure they are connected to needed services and resources, such as medical and behavioral healthcare, dental care, benefits, vocational services, and substance abuse services. HomeLink also provides service coordination with other providers and probation/parole to ensure participants maintain their safe, affordable housing.
Program Manager Denise, who has been with the HomeLink program since 2012, just ten months after the program began, reflects on what she finds most fulfilling in her work:
“I love move-in day. Because clients never believe me when I tell them “we got you.” Because they’ve heard that and other broken promises so many times. So when move-in day actually happens, it can be quite emotional. The fact that when I tell them “you are going to have food, you’re going to have everything you need to start your apartment – bedding, dishes – just everything to get you started,” they never believe me. I still get calls years later from clients saying “thank you so much, I really appreciate everything VSH does.” But I think the biggest piece is when you get them in housing, and you’re thinking in the back of your head, “what’s the potential for this person now going to be now that they’re housed?””
Read more about the Homelink team in the September 2020 newsletter and in their feature on social media.
The ultimate goal of supportive services is to help those we serve to regain stability and independence. For many of our residents and program participants, the final step in their journey is to be able to move out of VSH housing into housing of their own. VSH’s Move On program supports individuals in this transition.
Through Move On, our Supportive Services teams identify interested residents and work with them to create individualized plans preparing them to move out of permanent supportive housing and live independently. Preparations range from securing housing vouchers and income to pay for rent and utilities to building a social support system. Once a client Moves On, VSH provides supportive services for up to a year, which helps ensure that the transition into stable, independent housing is sustainable and successful.
Through Move On, we can support residents in their journey back to independence while opening those units of permanent supportive housing for individuals still experiencing homelessness.
Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH)
All VSH-owned properties offer voluntary on-site supportive services to residents.
Residents of VSH properties include individuals who have experienced homelessness, have little to no income, have been diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, are veterans, and/or have a Traumatic Brain Injury.
The major components of VSH’s supportive services are case management, individual counseling, skill building, social connectivity, and community engagement. Residents are referred through each community’s local housing authority and/or in collaboration with the coordinated entry process, which consists of a group of providers that operates through the locality’s Continuum of Care and serves as the centralized access point for those who are experiencing homelessness.
Properties also offer a range of amenities available on-site for our residents, from phone, computer, and laundry rooms to fitness centers, mailrooms and bike lockers. There are also communal spaces, including community rooms, courtyards, and sitting areas. These spaces are a place for our residents to come together for events and activities, from haircuts and food giveaways to bingo nights and birthday parties. Events like these are put on by both our team at the property and by volunteers.
Richmond Housing First (RHF)
RHF provides permanent supportive housing to individuals experiencing chronic homelessness through scattered-site rental assistance and supportive services.
RHF serves single adults with a documented disability (chronic medical condition, mental illness, and/or substance abuse disorder) who have experienced long or repeated episodes of homelessness. Individuals are referred through the Greater Richmond Continuum of Care which serves as the centralized access point for those who are experiencing homelessness.
The type of services provided to ensure participants maintain housing include housing stabilization, connection to needed medical and behavioral healthcare, referral to needed dental care, assistance with applying for benefits, vocational services, mental health services, and substance abuse services. Services are typically provided in collaboration with other social service providers. In 2021, expanded funding led to RHF being able to provide direct services to clients for the first time.
Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF)
The SSVF program is an initiative funded by the Veterans Administration to prevent and end Veteran homelessness. VSH administers the largest and longest running SSVF program in Virginia.
The SSVF program serves veteran individuals and families at risk of or currently experiencing homelessness. For individuals and families at risk of homelessness, SSVF offers preventative funds and services aimed at maintaining housing stability. For individuals and families currently experiencing homelessness, SSVF provides rapid rehousing assistance aimed at regaining stable housing as quickly as possible. SSVF also provides short-term case management to link individuals and families to benefits as well as temporary financial assistance to maintain or achieve housing stability.
Referrals for those experiencing homelessness come to SSVF via VetLink (Richmond) and a coordinated entry process in Petersburg and Charlottesville. VetLink is the coordinated entry group in Richmond that is made up of veteran service providers in the region. Veterans seeking prevention services contact the intake number directly and are screened for eligibility based on the results of the prevention screening and availability of funds.
The SSVF team consists of the Program Manager, Housing Case Managers, Outreach Specialist, Housing Navigators, and Intake Coordinator.