Newsletter – May 2017


May 2017
In This Issue
Observed every May, Mental Health Month provides opportunities to reduce stigma and raise awareness of the prevalence of mental illness. Since its inception in 1949, Mental Health Month has brought about positive change for people living with mental illness and continues to educate millions of Americans about mental health while reducing barriers to treatment and services. Many of the individuals we serve who are experiencing homelessness also experience a mental health issue. We are proud to be able provide the housing and mental health services people need to build their well-being and reach their full potential.

The Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute launched the #OkaytoSay campaign to offer messages of hope and recovery to Texans and their families. The campaign also works to increase awareness that most mental illnesses are treatable while encouraging individuals living with mental illness to start the conversation and access resources they need to lead fulfilling lives.
The goal of OkaytoSay is to change the perceptions of mental illness by promoting understanding, advocacy and support for people experiencing mental health issues.


The hashtag is now used by all types of people from around the world – including Prince William, Lady Gaga, and our very own staff at Integral Care. Visit our page and watch staff share their thoughts on why it’s important to talk about mental illness.

In the News

KUT reached out to Integral Care in response to recent fatalities caused by synthetic marijuana known as K2. I discussed how stable housing is key to helping people experiencing homelessness overcome substance use disorder. The story emphasized the impact the Homeless Outreach Street Team (HOST) has had in our community since it began operations in June, 2016. HOST is a partnership of Integral Care, the Austin Police Department, Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services (EMS), and Downtown Austin Community Court.
click to hear story
Last week, on May 17, the City of Austin’s Council “authorized an interlocal agreement with Integral Care for the Homelessness Outreach Street Team (HOST), to connect homeless individuals with services necessary to begin their process of stability and recovery, in the amount of $242,354, for the period October 1, 2016 through September 30, 2017.”

The HOST program connected with 1,749 people from June, 2016, through April 30, 2017. Of those, 115 were connected with mental health care, 104 were connected with housing programs, and 121 were connected with health care providers.

Homelessness Point in Time Count

The Ending Community Homelessness Coalition (ECHO) conducts a volunteer-led annual count of the number of children, families and adults who sleep in cars, tents, parks, under bridges, and on the streets. Over 500 volunteers participated in this year’s count.


A total of 2,036 individuals were identified as experiencing homelessness. Of those individuals, 834 slept outdoors, 832 slept in some sort of shelter, and 370 were housed in transitional housing. Integral Care is working with community partners such as ECHO, the Salvation Army, the City of Austin and many more organizations to better serve people experiencing homelessness in our community.

Since 2013, Integral Care has used the Housing First model in a variety of sites throughout Austin. Eighty-five percent of individuals stay housed for 12 months or more. Individuals housed for 12 months, who also receive wraparound services, showed significant reductions in encounters with law enforcement and decreased utilization of emergency health services.
Thanks to models similar to Housing First, our city has seen a slight reduction in the number of people experiencing homelessness who also live with mental illness, and the number of individuals who are chronically homeless.
You can read the full report here.


Upcoming Event

Join us for an update on Integral Care’s strategic plan and identified priorities. David Weden, Integral Care’s Chief Financial Officer, will provide an outline of our current budget and discuss what it takes to implement our Fiscal Year 2018 budget. Attendees will have the opportunity to ask questions and participate in an open discussion regarding Integral Care’s funding priorities for the upcoming year.
This forum will be held at Integral Care (1430 Collier St., Austin, TX 78704) on Tuesday, June 6th from 5:30 PM-7:00 PM in Room Collier 3.
We know that housing is more than four walls – it’s the basic foundation for mental health and well-being. I invite you to be a part of the solution at


Ellen Richards
Chief Strategy Officer
Integral Care
Housing First Oak Springs is a project of Integral Care