Southern Transitional Housing Sites
Charleston, South Carolina – Veterans Villas
In 1997 CHEP was invited to be a partner in a program initiated by the Charleston VA Medical Center to secure housing for homeless veterans on the de-activated Charleston Naval base. Prior to formation of this partnership, the Charleston VA Medical Center had few resources for patients who had completed their substance abuse recovery inpatient program, but had no financial resources and no place to live. The Naval Base provided the perfect setting. CHEP rented eight (8) officer’s housing units (4 duplex units) at no cost provided they use the quarters exclusively for transitional housing to veterans. Since the original partnership, CHEP has provided a safe and sober environment to hundreds of veteran residents who have completed the program and now live independently in the local Charleston community.
At this housing site, CHEP uses a combination of instruments to evaluate, assist and monitor each resident. Upon entering transitional housing, each resident articulates her/his personal goals to the program director as well as the group members at an "orientation" evening meeting. This is accomplished prior to final acceptance into the home to ensure that both the intent and personal resources are sufficient to complete the goals. Once accepted into housing, weekly meetings and individual sessions with the program director ensure that monitoring is a part of daily living. All residents complete an assessment of their progress on a standard form and work with resident peers and the program director in the achievement of milestones. The progress of each resident is communicated to the staff of the VA medical center to ensure a consistency between outpatient efforts and resident goals. The success of Veterans Villas rests primarily on the cooperation between CHEP and the Charleston VA Medical Center and it is through this cooperation that led to the initiation of additional programs to serve many more veterans with fundamental housing and supportive services.
Charleston, South Carolina - Charleston VETS
The Charleston VETS program has a direct lineage with the Veterans Villas Program. Once residents complete a basic housing, recovery, and community preparation program, there is a need to a program that addresses independent living skills. Charleston VETS address these needs and enhances other programs by creating a higher level independent residential environment which extended the transitional housing paradigm and fortified independent living skills. While the residents at Veterans Villas are provided two meals a day in a common area along with all supplies for daily living, the Charleston VETS provides food and supplies, but no common food preparation. Each house has to share the independent living responsibilities of cooking, cleaning, washing, and care-taking. The model for living is based on a modified Oxford House model that requires residents to work together as a group and share responsibilities for community living. The model has had an extremely positive effect on the program and gave residents of Veterans Villas new goals.
Since Charleston VETS is housed in individual apartment buildings, the living arrangement could accommodate both male and female veterans. The program targeted female veterans and their families, but if no female veterans are in residence, then the male veterans may utilize the apartments. All beds have been adapted where necessary to provide for the special needs of veterans. Experience has shown that the more housing that is available in discrete buildings, the more the program can accommodate veterans with special needs and residents with dependents. Our work with a broad spectrum of veteran needs confirms that the residence often has to adapt to the needs of the resident and not the other way around. Veterans with special needs are not only welcome they have priority – especially female veterans – at Charleston VETS.
Charleston, South Carolina – Freedom House
All of CHEP’s transitional housing beds require a strict residential program model with direct links to the VA for outpatient and therapeutic support. Freedom House is a step above the standard transitional house model. It is designed as the final step in transitional housing to solidify a personal recovery program, make independent living arrangement, and sharpen developmental skills for full community living. Freedom House complements the other CHEP programs by offering housing in separate units, but on the same street as veterans in the “traditional” program. Four separate houses (12 beds) are the highest level of transitional housing offered by CHEP and represent complete independent living. This program provides continuity in the spectrum of transitional housing and allows an opportunity to reinforce and fully develop earlier skills around attitude, recovery, and treatment. All residents participate in fully independent group housing, and are required to be employed or receive financial support in order to meet all financial obligations. Veterans participating in this part of the program are required to pay rent commensurate with market rates and design a workable budget. They must be employed, be completely self-maintained, and remain substance free. Freedom House allows a veteran to take a final transitional step toward independence. It is considered the jewel in the crown of transitional housing and clearly builds on the veteran’s own successes. Freedom House is an innovative model built on the earlier success of CHEP with the hope that all veterans can take advantage of a program that allows full freedom within the bounds of sobriety and recovery.