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Stories

Hope for the Future

Homelessness is a complex problem.


by Joseph Bourgeois, Cornerstone Case Manager/Housing Specialist

When dealing with the homeless population in Mohave County, I have realized that homelessness is just the tip of the iceberg in a much more complex problem.


As a Housing Specialist in Mohave County, I deal with this problem daily; the actual housing part of my job is honestly the easiest. The tricky part is sustaining the housing after the supports have stopped. Sounds simple, huh? If someone is homeless, then just find them a home; problem solved, right? I wish this were true, and this is where many people get the wrong idea about the battle we face when fighting homelessness. Often this is just a band aid, and soon after supports stop, we’re back to square one. This isn’t always the case, and there are a lot of success stories out there and many agencies with good people that really do help. However, there is still a big problem, especially with people who are dually diagnosed and often undiagnosed because of a lack of resources.


Substance Abuse and Mental Health


The two main issues I have seen from my own experience, especially in Kingman, are substance abuse and mental health. Both of which co-exist in the majority of my clients.


Either of these conditions is extremely hard to deal with and remain a functioning member of society, much less both; and, there can still be factors on top of these, like chronic health conditions, age, lack of family support, domestic violence, sex trafficking, and so on. In my experience, however, if one of my clients has a mental health concern or a substance abuse issue, it is redundant to try to address the other barriers they are facing until those two core issues are treated, and this is, unfortunately, the leading two barriers in my field.


Coordinated Approach Necessary


Hopefully, we can find a way to link substance abuse treatment facilities, mental health treatment facilities/organizations, and homeless services together in a coordinated effort to attack this problem. Unfortunately, this is not the case in our community.


There seems to be a disconnect on the front lines between the agencies that are putting in the work and battling on the front lines and the Substance abuse treatment programs as well as the behavioral health service providers. There are minimal resources for drug treatment in Mohave County unless you have private health insurance or can self-pay, which unfortunately misses an entire population we work with.


Living on the streets for any period of time or dealing with substance abuse is a mental health issue that, in my opinion, is going undiagnosed and untreated. The levels of stress, anxiety, P.T.S.D., depression, and many more ailments an individual deals with causes an individual to live in a state of constant chaos, and housing alone cannot address all of these problems.


Service Providers Participation


I believe that the agencies involved in this effort are doing a great job, and in recent years I have seen some great strides being taken by everyone involved. I have hope for the future of our community because of the hard work and dedication of my fellow colleagues in the field. Hopefully, one day we will be able to get more involvement from behavioral health providers in our area, as well as some affordable and readily available substance abuse treatment. The need for the participation of these service providers is paramount in tackling the homeless problem that everyone in this community is affected by.

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