When the Volusia-Flagler County Coalition for the Homeless (VFCCH) completed its most recent Point In Time count in April, there were 745 Volusia County residents experiencing homelessness.  According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, these are just a few of the causes of homelessness: employment/financial reasons, family issues/domestic violence, medical/disability, substance use, and mental health.

With the First Step Shelter set to open its doors in Daytona Beach by the end of 2019, and The Bridge set to open in DeLand next spring, Volusia County is preparing to begin providing shelter for adult members of this homeless population. However, sheltering individuals experiencing homelessness is only one piece of the larger picture of care. Providing a full scope of services to shelter residents, not just a roof and a bed, is key to the successful pursuit of the life changes that shelter residents may seek.  SMA Healthcare is poised to provide a diverse menu of services for residents at both First Step and The Bridge to meet the broad array of needs of the Volusia County homeless population.

Services that will be provided include emergency screenings, detoxification, crisis stabilization, inpatient and outpatient substance use and mental mealth treatment, Medication Assisted Treatment, and Rape Crisis Services.  These services are funded by a combination of County, State, and Federal Funding, and a sliding scale fee.  Furthermore, SMA Healthcare offers its grant-funded outreach programs, PATH and PATHWAYS, which specifically address the mental health and/or substance use needs of homeless individuals diagnosed with a severe mental illness, and provide case management, treatment, and recovery support services. SMA will continue to offer these programs free of charge for as long as grant funding allows — or until other funding sources are identified.  That being said, SMA services provided for both shelters are of no cost to the shelters.  

Additionally, the agency contracted to operate the First Step Shelter, Catholic Services, has contracted with SMA to fund one on-site therapist who will provide screenings, crisis intervention, therapy, and a linkage to and navigation of SMA services.  With this wide safety net of services offered to Volusia County’s shelter population, progress can be made toward reducing the overall rate of homelessness in Volusia County. And, more importantly, progress can be made toward making life better for all of Volusia County’s residents.