Housing the Mentally Ill If you have ever been to a major city in this country you have probably come into contact at some point with a homeless person. Even some of the smaller cities have people standing at the stoplights holding signs asking for help in some way or another. Whether you’re the type of person to hand them a few dollars or drive on by like it never happened it would be impossible to deny this statement. The question I find myself asking is why are these people homeless in the first place? Is there somewhere for these people to go or are they truly stuck outside to endure the harsh weather all winter long? I decided to investigate some of the options in housing that are out there for the mentally ill specifically in Kitsap County. I decided to focus on this specific group of the homeless population because their needs at times can far exceed the resources most homeless shelters have to offer. As one could imagine counting and collecting data on the homeless population can be a very daunting task. It is impossible to count everyone sleeping on the streets at any given time as well as those people sleeping in cars or hotel rooms. The estimated number of homeless people living under inadequate conditions is between 2.5 and 3.5 million on any given day. Of those millions of people it is estimated that around 28 percent are suffering from a severe mental illness (Martin, 2011). That is a huge number of people that if left untreated have a very low chance of ever finding a job or adequate place to lay their head at night. The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that between 8 and 17 percent of the prison population is made up of inmates suffering from a mental disorder. When considering we have the highest rate of incarceration in the whole world I think we owe it to ourselves to try and figure out a better way to keep these people out of the prison system. In 1998 the first Mental Health Court was established in Florida and since then many more all over the U.S. This was the first push by the government to stop the flow of the mentally ill into the prison system. This system has proven to lower recidivism rates and help the over-all effectiveness of community based treatment programs (Gregg Goodale, April 2013). If there is someone in Kitsap County suffering from a mental illness and they are seeking out treatment they are likely to contact Kitsap Mental Health Services. KMHS is a not-for-profit organization that offers both inpatient and outpatient services for a wide variety of people and mental illnesses. They have mental health professionals, counselors, and social workers on staff to help customize a treatment plan to a specific client to help them better function in society (Kitsap Mental Health Services, 2014). Most of the patients at KMHS are in some form of outpatient which means they are still responsible for their own housing and medication. KMHS has 15 inpatient beds on site but they are usually used for involuntary, emergency purposes. These beds can be accessed by someone seeking severe mental health treatment but only if one is available. Kitsap Community Resources is a great place for people to get directed to the services available in this community. They offer grant funded programs that can save people from eviction or get somebody off the streets and into affordable housing. They also have a variety of other programs that help people pay their utilities, get free counseling as well as many other services. They can also point you in the right direction of places that offer affordable housing in the area (Kitsap Community Resources , 2014).
(Oxford House, 2014)Catholic Community Services is one resource in Kitsap County that can help people with mental or physical disabilities find adequate housing in the community. One of the programs they offer to help people is the Housing and Essential Needs. The HEN program has you go