SAFER was created to accept local donations to address the short-term housing needs of disabled individuals with behavioral health needs who were homeless due to COVID-19. As a first step to address this major health need for these individuals in our county, SAFER issues short-term motel vouchers. The three sources of referrals for SAFER’s emergency shelter vouchers are South Metro Fire, Arapahoe County pretrial services/sheriff’s office, and behavioral health services.
All participants in SAFER have case oversight or management through Arapahoe County Pretrial Mental Health Program; “Bridges Program” (AllHealth Network), with the 18th Judicial District Courts; AllHealth’s ACT (assertive community treatment team); VOA veterans’ program; or public defender/alternate defense council social worker. SAFER provides participants with motel vouchers and, in collaboration with local non-profits, food and hygiene necessities.
SAFER coordinates with Arapahoe County’s Community Resources Department, Human Services, and Housing and Community Development departments; Veteran Services; local faith-based communities (specifically those associated with Change the Trend); and its major partner AllHealth Network, and other local behavioral health providers.
Due to the high needs and limited funding, all coordination is done with volunteers and the number served depends on available funds. SAFER works to:
- Evaluate level of need for individuals entering the program
- Connect participants with wrap-around services for physical and mental health needs
- Address any justice needs and offer supportive advocacy and case management navigation
- Connect participants with peer supporters and recovery coaches
- Offer a regular schedule of meetings and groups hosted by peer supporters as well as transportation for participants to other group support meetings in the area
- Assist participants in gathering personal documentation necessary for housing and employment (i.e., identification, birth certificate, social security card, etc.).
- Assist participants in applying for insurance, food stamps, and other government benefits
- Supply participants with public transportation passes and public transit education
- Take regular trips to the local food bank to collect for the program and volunteer
- Offer job searching support and volunteer opportunities
- Address housing barriers
- Develop Safety plans with participants
- Set regular goals to keep participants moving forward
- Create a structured plan on a case-by-case basis to address the needs of the individual and support them on their path to wellness and independent living