PATH and SSH: Working Together in West Virginia

While PATH funds can be used for many services, PATH funds cannot be used to pay for housing or shelter stays. At Harmony House, a drop in center in Huntington, WV, collaboration developed between the PATH and Services in Supportive Housing (SSH) projects to fill this need.

PATH funds can be used to support a variety of services. The funds are primarily used for outreach and engagement: going under bridges and into alleyways to reach individuals who are not connected to services. PATH funds can also be used for community-based outreach, mental health and substance abuse services, case management, and limited housing services. However, PATH funds cannot be used to pay for housing stays.

Services in Supportive Housing (SSH) funds intensive services to individuals or families who are chronically homeless and residing in supportive housing. The objective is to increase housing stability and self-sufficiency of consumers in supportive housing. As of 2010, there are 57 SSH grantees across the country, compared to more than 480 PATH grantees. Unlike PATH, which is a formula grant that provides funding at the state level, and then funds are distributed to providers, the SSH funds go directly to organizations who apply for funding from SAMHSA; SAMHSA administers both the PATH and SSH programs.

The Prestera Center in Huntington, West Virginia receives PATH funding and is an SSH grantee. Founded in 1785, Huntington is the second largest city in West Virginia with a population of approximately 49,185 residents (2008). John Hampton works on the PATH project in Cabel and Wayne Counties. Traci Strickland is the Project Director for SSH in the cities of Charleston and Huntington, and Breanne Akers is the SSH team leader and therapist in the city of Huntington. John, Traci, and Breanne work together, with their peers, to foster a team atmosphere where PATH and SSH collaborate to provide comprehensive services. John, Traci, and Breanne took the time to tell the PATH Technical Assistance Center about their collaboration.

PATH and SSH each bring unique elements to the delivery of services. “PATH provides the outreach services to identify individuals and engage them into services. The SSH grant staff then assist with Shelter Plus Care or housing applications and provide supportive services to individuals once housing is obtained.” The PATH/SSH partnership allows for the improved use of available resources: “The SSH grant offers a housing program with services for PATH consumers. Previously, many individuals were referred from PATH to a psychiatrist or a general case management team that often couldn't meet the individual’s needs due to funding restrictions.”

When asked how the PATH/SSH collaboration works the providers responded that “As providers, we collaborate on a daily basis. We coordinate referrals, find answers to client level issues, provide crisis intervention, and work together to offer services to as many people as possible. For us, the PATH provider is almost a ‘5th man’ on the SSH team. That is just how closely they work together. For us, it has been critical for this to be a close collaboration.”

“These two programs are a natural fit. We partner with the local housing authority, homeless shelters, detox and treatment centers, hospitals, and local churches. Collaboration with each program and other agencies are the key to success.” Supportive housing provides consumers with long-term, community-based housing options. This housing approach combines housing assistance and intensive individualized support services to people with serious psychiatric conditions and those with co-occurring mental and substance use disorders.

Over the next few years John, Traci, and Breanne see the PATH and SSH teams continuing to grow and provide more services to individuals and families in the Huntington West Virginia area. “Housing people experiencing homelessness is a team effort.”

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Publication Date: 
Newton Centre, MA, USA