Page 12 - Open Sky Annual Report 2020
P. 12

  Coping, Responding and Reimagining
Housing and Homeless Services Expand to Meet Community Needs
Over the past several years, the Homeless, Justice-Involved and Community Support Services offered by Open Sky have expanded dramatically. Beginning with one program in the Southbridge area (SCHAP – South County Housing Assistance), the division has grown to over a dozen programs today.
Homeless Services include programs providing outreach, rapid rehousing, case management, connections to treatment, and in some cases, financial assistance for first, last and security deposits, and COVID-rental assistance for rent and utility arrears. These programs provide services for close to 230 people per year.
Open Sky also was invited to participate in a Behavioral Health for Justice Involved pilot program, providing navigation and support services for people with mental illness, substance use disorders or co-occurring disorders
who are returning to the community following incarceration. This program has served over 250 people.
Community Support Programs have also grown at Open Sky, with services provided to prevent hospitalizations for people at high risk of admission to 24-hour psychiatric or addiction treatment settings. The programs also help people who are chronically homeless by providing coordination of behavioral health services and tenancy-sustaining activities to help them become and remain stably housed.
The growth of these services comes as a direct result of an experienced team, and a comprehensive model that strives to meet people where they are, focus on harm reduction, provide supports in a non-judgmental way, do whatever it takes to be supportive, and to offer Wraparound supports that help people achieve and maintain stable housing.
  “the program did all they could to help us get through it.” – Bryan Fafard
South County Housing Assistance Program (SCHAP) Provides Ongoing Supports
The road that led Bryan Fafard to Open Sky’s SCHAP (South County Housing Assistance) services began a decade ago with a scooter accident in Arizona. So much can change in a person’s life in just a moment. The brain injury caused by the accident triggered psychiatric symptoms and, unable to work, he returned home to Massachusetts. By the time Bryan was connected to Open Sky in 2011, he was living in a camper with no running water and no electricity. Staff at the SCHAP program helped Bryan find an apartment, made sure he got to his doctor’s appointments and even helped with food shopping. Bryan, who is now happily married to Sandra, has stayed engaged with SCHAP throughout the years. In fact, Open Sky was there for the couple in May when they both contracted COVID-19. Sarah Foster, the family’s SCHAP Housing Specialist, checked in with them daily, arranged for weekly deliveries of food and cleaning supplies and provided them with cloth masks. Bryan appreciated the support, explaining “the program did all they could to help us get through it.” Fortunately, both of them recovered and today, Bryan is enjoying his life with Sandy, his step-children and grandchildren.
It’s been a long road for Bryan and he’s grateful to have had Open Sky by his side.
11 Open Sky Community Services Annual Report 2020

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