Meet the Staff: Darilynn Cardona-Beiler

We recently met with Darilynn Cardona-Beiler, Director of Adult Behavioral Health Systems at Integral Care, to learn about her experience with and passion for Housing First.

 

Why are you passionate about Housing First?

It’s very simple – I’ve seen it work. Housing is at the core of health and well-being. Housing First is the solution to homelessness and it serves as a platform from which an individual can pursue personal goals and improve their quality of life. When you don’t have a home, there are very few opportunities to achieve a state of well-being. One of the things that makes me very passionate about Housing First is the philosophy of treating people with unconditional positive regard in contrast to traditional homeless programs that insist on preconditions such as sobriety or psychiatric care and moving through steps to have a home. Individuals don’t have to earn their housing. Once someone is housed and achieves stability, it creates a positive ripple effect that impacts their lives and the lives of those around them.

 

Can you tell us about your involvement with Housing First in Ohio?

I’ve been involved in the provision of homeless services since 1997 and have been involved with the development of Housing First since 2000. I was part of a team in Cleveland who was charged with the implementation of Housing First in Cleveland. While I was there, we built the first Housing First program that created the energy to bring stakeholders together to create more housing opportunities for people with disabilities. The Housing First Initiative has been successful. As it stands now, Housing First has implemented 518 apartments for singles and over 100 apartments for young adults and families with histories of long-term homelessness and disabilities.  While I was there, I was part of the development of 6 of those properties and the creation of 378 units of permanent supported housing.

 

What excites you most about bringing Housing First to Austin?

I am passionate about Housing First because this model is effective in changing people’s lives. Housing first is not housing only. It is housing with supports. There’s nothing I want to do more than ending homelessness in our community.  It’s unfortunate to see how many people in Austin don’t have a safe place to call home.  Integral Care’s Housing First Oak Springs project will stand as an example in our community to develop more housing opportunities for people with mental illness. In the same way that the first project in Cleveland created momentum, I’m excited to see how Housing First Oak Springs will stand as that building that will energize the community behind this initiative.

 

What else would you like readers to know?

I feel honored to be part of an amazing team that has embraced and supported the Housing First philosophy. Most importantly, I am really inspired by the strength of the people we serve. We currently have over 450 individuals in housing, but last year, Integral Care served 3,000 individuals experiencing homelessness, which means we have work to do!