Alliance Health’s Community Health and Well-Being team recently launched a new bridge housing program in Durham to help people we serve who are living in homelessness transition to permanent supportive housing.
The initiative provides housing, case management, support and referral services for people exiting homelessness to help them move toward self-sufficiency. Alliance aims to help people transition to permanent supportive housing in three to five months.
The new program, which began in August, is similar to one that Alliance operated in partnership with Resources for Human Development at Harrington Place in Raleigh, where most participants were able to move into permanent housing within 90 days. That program was forced to close when the building was sold to a developer who terminated the lease.
“One of the things that we like about bridge housing is the basic concept of giving people a safe and temporary place to live while they get the services and support they need to move toward permanent housing,” said Ann Oshel, Alliance Senior Vice President, Community Health and Well-Being. “It’s better and easier than trying to do that while someone is living under an overpass.”
The bridge housing is located at the Carolina Duke Inn, where Alliance has a master lease on 8 units in one of the buildings. Through a capital investment project, the rooms have been reconfigured into single-room occupancy dwellings with kitchenettes.
The initiative is in partnership with Durham community development organization Reinvestment Partners, which provides onsite management, and Southlight Healthcare, which provides peer support.
Individuals are referred to the program and supported by Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) or Community Support Team (CST) providers or Alliance’s Transitions to Community Living Initiative (TCLI) team, which provide primary supports to participants. The program is available to people in the Alliance service area of Cumberland, Durham, Johnston and Wake counties.
“We are in the process of developing an array of community living options, and bridge housing is an important step in this array,” Oshel said. “This type of program, which matches case management and peer support to help people to find benefits and employment and to navigate a housing search is really one of the best housing interventions we can offer to help people leave homelessness.”
Oshel said that struggles in the hotel industry as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic provided the opportunity for the initiative. “I’m convinced we would not have had this opportunity had it not been for COVID, so it’s a little bit of a silver lining.”
The current lease at Carolina Duke is for two years, during which time Oshel hopes to find a permanent location to continue and improve the program, as well as a funding model that would support the option in all communities served by Alliance.