Hunger + Homelessness Week: Case Management at our Homeless Initiative Program

Staff post: This post was written by Toscha Wilkins, a case manager at HIP.

“Words cannot express how grateful I am for these programs. I have my own place and a job. I can pay my rent. I have a bank account and a vehicle. I feel like my life is back together again. I owe it all to HIP and the HCP (Hospitality Certification Program). If it hadn’t been for their help, I don’t know where I’d be right now!” –Tonya Buie, HIP case management client and HCP participant.

Since 1988 HealthNet’s Homeless Initiative Program (HIP) has opened doors for thousands of Indianapolis’ homeless, helping them find employment and permanent housing. There are thousands of Hoosiers who without the assistance and guidance of HIP would still be homeless and possibly hopeless. HIP not only assists individuals and families with getting housed, we provide them with hope and the tools necessary for them to remain housed.

What we provide for our clients is all in our name. Merriam-Webster’s definition of initiative is “of or relating to initiation.” If you look further into the word initiation you find thatit means “the act of starting something: the beginning of something.” When our clients step through our doors, they are in fact looking to “start or begin” their life again.

I started at HIP over five years ago and have been able to see the agency grow through the renewing of grants, the continued support from HealthNet, awarding of new grants and more recently, funding for housing programs. When I am out in the community on behalf of HIP, it pleases me that I am able to not only say we help homeless individuals get off the street by providing resources and advocacy; but also that we provide case management services to both individuals and families so that they have continued support through their journey of obtaining a home of their own.

HIP has always been and remains a cornerstone
for the Indianapolis community’s homeless.

When a client first walks in our doors they are greeted with a warm reception, dignity and respect. Clients come in for a range of services from assistance with everyday needs, medical help, employment, resources and referrals to assistance with finding permanent housing. Some of the everyday needs might consist of items such as soap, tooth paste, deodorant, lotion, a comb or brush, and anything else that those of us who are housed take for granted. We also have a clothing pantry where they can come in for socks, underwear, shirts, pants or even a coat for the winter. It’s a wonderful sight to see someone who has nothing come in and get a clean pair of pants, a shirt, socks and maybe even shoes and leave with a huge smile on their face knowing that they are truly grateful. Some even change in our bathroom before they leave! These services are all taken care of by our triage team who see clients on a first come first served basis.

If clients are looking for assistance with “starting or beginning” their life again, triage will sign them up for case management.

HIP has four caring, empathetic, socially conscious and educated case managers. Our case managers are the “advisors,” “counselors” and “supporters” for clients that come to HIP looking to start their lives over.

“Case managers are like a life coach getting clients to where they want to be.” – Kay Wiles, manager, Triage/Outreach and Case Management.

Once the relationship is started it becomes like a partnership in getting the client housed. Case managers have been there for clients in times of crisis as well as times of celebration. All four of us have at one point helped a client or family move into their new place, sometimes going as far as shopping with them for “the perfect matching comforter set”! It’s a joy for us to see them move into their place and know that we were instrumental in helping them start their lives again with new hope.

Case managers assist clients with referrals for employment, signing up for eligible benefits, childcare needs, and education, housing and mainstream resources. Once the client has established housing whether that’s transitional, treatment facility or permanent housing they continue to work with the clients for six months after they are housed. This allows the client the continued one on one support they need to maintain the life they have “started again.”

“HIP case managers help clients lay the foundation they need to improve their physical, mental, social, and economic well-being”

Today is Monday of National Hunger + Homelessness Week!  You can get more information about HIP on our website, chat with others on our Facebook page, and ask questions by tweeting at @GiveACareIndy.

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One Response to Hunger + Homelessness Week: Case Management at our Homeless Initiative Program

  1. Jaimie November 16, 2011 at 12:42 pm #

    Beautifully written…the article encourages me to be even more mindful, to not forget those in great need. Individuals and families should be considered not only during this holiday season, but homelessness and hunger is a year round crises. Thank you for the article, I know that it will bring awareness to others throughout our city of Indy.

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