The courageous individuals served at Step Up are part of a sobering national picture: 50% of individuals who are homeless are affected by serious mental illness; hundreds of thousands of men and women are incarcerated due to acting out when untreated; thousands of loved ones take their lives each year; 70,000 individuals are in state psychiatric hospitals; and individuals affected by serious mental illness get food from garbage cans each day.
Serious mental illnesses are real, biologically-based disorders that are no one’s fault. The individuals who are seriously ill, imprisoned, impoverished, and punished by their untreated illness don’t deserve to be ignored…
Serious mental health issues are at the root of chronic homelessness for many. The permanent supportive housing of Step Up and Daniel’s Place brings the stability and inclusion that leads to recovery for adults and transitional aged youth (18-28 years of age) experiencing mental health issues. Step Up and Daniel’s Place operate 200 units of innovative, community-based supportive housing in Santa Monica and Hollywood, as well as linkage to numerous scattered sites units in the greater Los Angeles area. Each SRO home unit is flexible, voluntary, and tenant–centered, in the least restrictive and most integrated setting to help individuals move from the streets to home. Step Up and Daniel’s Place are also involved in national efforts to create the upfront working capital to scale this successful “Housing First” model so that this promising solution can work for all individuals experiencing chronic homelessness and mental health issues.
Productivity is an important aspect of quality of life. Step Up and Daniel’s Place offer coaching and mentoring opportunities including pre-vocational training, techniques for job interviews, work adjustment, employment preparation, and job placement. Hands-on experiences in paid positions include word processing, data entry, facilities maintenance, receptionist duties, clerical support, food service, restaurant kitchen operations, and retail associate work. Over 175 members participate in these supported employment training and placement programs, with 80 individuals employed, and 31 individuals enrolled in an educational program of some type. Participants work as employees of Step Up and Daniel’s Place with supported supervision and guidance. Step Up’s vocational philosophy parallels its housing philosophy – there are no failures. All participants desiring meaningful, community-competitive employment will be assisted in achieving that goal.
Member-driven support programs and services reduce harm, prevent relapse, and foster recovery. The professional staff and peer advocates of Step Up and Daniel’s Place provide support and empowerment for members to achieve their self-determined goals through services coordination, life skills coaching, psychiatrists for medication support, and transportation. New members are connected to a Peer Advocate for a “buddy-system” and receive one-on-one peer attention. Many opportunities for a sense of belonging and the embrace of community include: Sixty weekly peer support groups with topics as diverse as learning how to tell one’s story, computer basics, managing medications, yoga, money management, and a variety of art opportunities; “Brainstorm”, a creative writing group, gives expression to the experience of mental health issues; the Art Heals Gallery, a permanent space to exhibit member artists’ work; and a Computer Learning Center. Over 40,000 individual meals are provided annually, and over 1200 members are assisted. Step Up and Daniel’s Place members meet weekly in Member Advisory Groups providing feedback and problem-solving. Two members serve on Step Up’s Board of Directors, and participate in establishing and supporting the agency’s vision for the future and advocacy to end stigma and discrimination. Additionally, a Step Up and Daniel’s Place Parent Support Group provides experience, strength, and hope for family members.