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Mayor Berry Announces Program to Assist Homeless Individuals Impacted by Severe Mental Illness

The Directed Outreach Services Program Will Provide Mental Health and Basic Needs Resources to Vulnerable Populations within Community

May 27, 2014

Albuquerque—Today Mayor Richard J. Berry was joined by leadership from the Department of Family and Community Services, St. Martin’s Hospitality Center and the Albuquerque Police Department’s Crisis Outreach and Support Team (COAST) to announce the Directed Outreach Services program which will create an outreach team focused on serving people experiencing homelessness along with severe mental health issues, such as paranoid schizophrenia. The city of Albuquerque Family and Community Services Department is committing resources to fund a full time outreach coordinator assigned to St. Martin’s Hospitality Center to partner with the APD’s COAST and Crisis Intervention Team (CIT).

The coordinator will direct outreach services within the community by utilizing teams of mental health and homelessness service professionals. The outreach teams will work to locate homeless individuals experiencing symptoms of paranoid schizophrenia, hallucinations and delusions, frequent suicidal thoughts and other severe mental health issues. Based upon professional assessment, connections will be offered to provide housing and appropriate treatment services. Acceptance of these services by individuals will be voluntary.

“Recent events have highlighted a number of concerns and gaps in services within our community, not the least of which are frequent lack of connections to mental health services for an often difficult to reach segment of our population,” Mayor Berry said. “Through this program, we intend to reach more men and women who may otherwise be in and out of the justice system when what they really need are tailored treatment services to address their underlying mental health issues and other resources to meet their basic needs.”

"We will utilize these funds in collaboration with Albuquerque Heading Home, Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) Teams, and permanent supportive housing programs to provide necessary housing and supportive case management services.” said Douglas H. Chaplin, Director, Department of Family and Community Services.

“St. Martin’s is grateful to join in partnership with the City of Albuquerque to transform these challenging situations into solution focused interventions for individuals with mental illness. Together we can help people get the access to services they need. This initiative is an important step in offering housing and mental health services to those most in need,” said Father Rusty Smith, Executive Director of St. Martin’s Hospitality Center.

The Department of Family & Community Services will initially allocate $50,000 per year to provide this service. This will directly fund outreach and assessment efforts that will immediately assist in providing necessary treatment options. The connections will lead to permanent supportive housing and other supportive services, such as appropriate treatment services, to help maintain a stable lifestyle.