Trauma Treatment, Resource Centers Subjects Of Homeless Summit | KUER 90.1

Trauma Treatment, Resource Centers Subjects Of Homeless Summit

Oct 12, 2017

Experts and organization leaders gathered this week to talk about homeless services at the 14th annual Homelessness Summit in downtown Salt Lake. One of the main topics included trauma among homeless individuals.

Mary Beth Vogel-Ferguson is a research professor at the College of Social Work at the University of Utah.

According to Ferguson, trauma experiences affect brain development and skills required to be able to solve problems, get jobs and build relationships.

If we could work better with people in developing those skills as they're going through adolescence into adulthood, then the likelihood of them ending up in homelessness is going to be reduced.

Part of the challenge, she says, is to build resiliency and to understand what leads people to homelessness. And how people use substances as a coping mechanism for trauma. She says once people have received help to address these experiences then they are ready to reenter society.

Homeless service experts say opening more resource centers is another critical step to address downtown Salt Lake’s chronic homelessness problem.

Michelle Flynn is associate executive director of programs at The Road Home. She says the focus should be keeping the time an individual or a family is experiencing homelessness as short as possible.

Families can work with the Department of Workforce Services, or DWS, on site at the resource centers to prepare them when they leave the shelter.

As soon as they move out into the community they can continue working with DWS and go to their local employment center and they have that connection already set up that can continue to support them while they're living in their home.

Flynn says they know they are effective when three goals are achieved: reducing the length of stay, increasing the exits from homelessness into permanent housing and decreasing the number of people who return to homelessness.