Going Virtual with Housing Support

Going Virtual with Housing Support

Vail Place and North Memorial Health (NMH) work in partnership through our Vail Connect program to meet the needs of individuals who live with mental health conditions and experience barriers that can be difficult to manage on their own. Many who are referred to Vail Connect experience homelessness or insecure housing, among other barriers.

An important component of the Vail Connect model is the Housing Group. Staff facilitate a combination of education sessions helping individuals understand the complexities of the housing system, assist with determining the best housing options and provide small group support in an effort to support individual’s journey to find stabile housing.

The Housing Group has traditionally been held weekly at NMH, however, once the pandemic hit, the Vail Connect team was determined to find another way to deliver services. They transitioned from the drop-in, in-person setting to a virtual model. Staff members compiled the information, prepared materials that could be shared electronically and then developed videos to deliver the materials to those who need it.

Staff created a document to be shared with others that has imbedded video links with a focus on “housing how-to” details, types of housing programs and options, definitions, applications, barriers, etc. This information is formatted so it can be shared with clients as educational components to watch in groups, with partner providers, and internally at Vail Place as a “virtual housing group.” The video library is available as a resource for all Vail Place staff to utilize with individuals they work with on housing related concerns.

Additionally, Vail Connect staff will soon offer the “drop in/mutual aid” portion of the group through an open zoom call—anyone with the link can call in/join to get advice, ask questions, troubleshoot and share struggles or successes.

Carolyn Bollinger, the Community Services Coordinator for Vail Connect, developed the curriculum for the groups stated that, “This is a unique opportunity; the ability to provide a mutual aid group that offers both housing resources and the opportunity to get and give support. Being able to talk about housing difficulties with others who understand these challenges and know what you’re going through is critical. Clients can empower themselves by sharing their story, knowledge and experience to help others in the group. Providing the opportunity to connect in a Zoom format will help make sure people have that connection to others, which is so important during the pandemic when people are more isolated.”