Newsletter – February 2018

February 2018
From the Streets into a Home
Meet Tommy. For him a home means recovery from homelessness, substance use disorder and mental illness. 
Tommy’s mom had her first child at the age of 14.  He was one of 7 children.  By the time he was a teenager, he was working odd jobs and started using alcohol to “comfort” himself.  He first experienced homelessness at the age of 24 when he was still working odd jobs but couldn’t afford his basic needs – like rent. He moved from city to city all across the country looking for a permanent job, and finally settled in Austin.  After years of using alcohol as a way to cope with his circumstances, his kidneys began to fail.  While hospitalized, he learned about treatment and started on the path to recovery.  He admits it feels good to be sober.  He has never had a solid foundation or a place to call his own until now. Watch his story and see how a home means recovery from homelessness, substance use disorder and mental illness.

Housing First is Changing Lives

Pathways to Housing DC adopted the Housing First approach in 2004, which believes that a house is more than four walls. It’s the foundation for recovery from homelessness, mental illness and substance use disorder. Cities across the country, like Austin, are adopting the Housing First model.
Meet Linwood and Tamika Blount who learned about Housing First from Pathways to Housing DC.

Integral Care and Community Partners Aim to Stop the Revolving Door of Incarceration for Individuals Living with Serious Mental Illness.

The Forensic Assertive Community Treatment team
Nationally, 2 million people with mental illness are booked into jails each year. In Travis County, 25-30% of individuals in our jail system receive treatment for a mental illness. When people don’t have access to mental health treatment, symptoms and conditions can worsen.

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission recently announced that Austin is one of 14 local communities that will receive grant funding to help reduce recidivism, arrest and incarceration of individuals living with mental illness. This award is through Senate Bill 292, co-sponsored by Senator Watson and passed during the last legislative session. Integral Care received preliminary notice of an award anticipated to be $2.5M on an annual basis.


With this funding, Integral Care, in collaboration with Travis County, Central Health and the City of Austin, proposed to establish a new Forensic Assertive Community Treatment (FACT) team linked to permanent supportive housing in our community. FACT is an intensive, multi-disciplinary team-based intervention that stops the revolving door of incarceration for individuals living with serious mental illness. FACT will serve individuals who have been arrested for minor offenses or felonies as well as experienced recurring and lengthy in-patient mental health hospitalizations, most of whom are living homeless in our community. Services include mental health care, counseling, medications, family education, primary health care, peer support and permanent supportive housing.

FACT is built on the principals of Integral Care’s Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) team, who has been serving the community for 24 years. ACT provides wrap around support services in the community to individuals experiencing mental illness and/or substance use disorder. The new FACT team will be led by Integral Care’s Elizabeth Baker, Practice Manager of ACT and Specialty Services.

We know that housing is more than four walls. It’s the basic foundation for mental health and well-being.
Ellen Richards
Chief Strategy Officer
Housing First Oak Springs is a project of Integral Care