72 Jacques Ave.
Worcester MA 01610
Phone: (508) 860-1000
Community Healthlink is committed to promoting, restoring, and maintaining the physical health, mental health and dignity of adults, children and families in Central Massachusetts who are experiencing mental illness, addiction or homelessness. Community Healthlink’s services are grounded in the principles of recovery and the belief that every person has the right to choose his or her own recovery path. Community Healthlink uses evidence-based practices and relevant state-of-the-art research aimed at improving the lives of our consumers.
Homeless Outreach & Advocacy Project (HOAP)
A HOAP nurse provides medical care to a HOAP client.Many years ago, Community Healthlink recognized that so many of the homeless in our society also battle mental illness and often a substance abuse problem. In 1985, the Homeless Outreach & Advocacy Project was established with a commitment to link the region’s homeless to a comprehensive array of services that would include screenings, assessments, counseling, health care, rehabilitation, and referral to other support systems.
Physicians, registered nurses and nurse practitioners perform medical evaluations at HOAP’s primary care clinic, located at 162 Chandler Street in Worcester, and also visit area shelters to evaluate and refer people for treatment. A psychiatrist and a team of licensed clinicians perform mental health screenings and offer counseling and medications. Case Management staff help clients enroll in available health insurance programs, access health care and social security benefits, and resolve other benefits-related issues.
Outreach performed by HOAP staff is done in the community, through a variety of shelters and other emergency care programs. Staff also seeks to establish contact with homeless individuals at vacant lots, and even along railroad tracks and bridges. Basic services are also available at HOAP’s primary care clinic and staff offices.
HOAP offers services in partnership with other local agencies, including healthcare providers, mental health and substance abuse treatment providers, faith-based communities and local city and community organizations. In addition to its counseling and support services, HOAP staff help manage scattered-site housing in the Worcester area for unaccompanied homeless adults and at-risk families.
Transitional Housing: Safe Haven and Oasis House
Safe Haven is a 13-bed transitional housing program operated by Community Healthlink, Inc. and fully funded by HUD. There are 9 beds in a house that is staffed 24 hours a day and 4 beds in community setting apartments with minimal staff supervision. The program utilizes the housing first model and houses chronically homeless adults, dually diagnosed, who generally suffer from untreated mental illness and substance abuse issues. Although the program offers an indefinite length of stay, the program still provides many services that assist clients in obtaining medical, psychological, and financial stability so that they may obtain housing and return into the community to succeed independently. Rehabilitation services are also available on site. All referrals are made through Community Healthlink’s Homeless Outreach and Advocacy project (HOAP).
Oasis House is an 8-bed transitional housing program operated by Community Healthlink, Inc. and funded by HUD. The program houses chronically homeless adults with severe and persistent mental illness, often untreated. The goal of the stay is to engage clients in mental health treatment and encourage them to connect with mental health providers. Residents are expected to contribute 45% of their income as program fees, which cover the cost of clients’ rooms, utilities, and food. Residents are expected to be free of substances. Oasis house is staffed 24 /7 to monitor and support clients, who are allowed to reside at Oasis House up to two years. The program provides many services to assist residents in obtaining medical, psychological and financial stability so they may obtain permanent housing and return to the community to succeed independently. All referrals are made through Community Healthlink’s Homeless Outreach and advocacy project (HOAP).
The Leased Housing for the Chronically Homeless Program serves clients in the Worcester County area who are homeless by HUD definition, and also have a disabling condition, using the Housing-First model. The resources used for this program are distributed by the local continuum of care to several sponsoring agencies throughout the county. CHL is the conduit for these resources and administers the monthly payments to each landlord.
When there is an opening in the housing program, applicants are recruited from the HOAP outreach program as well as collaborative partner agencies, such as Family Health Center, UMass Memorial Health Care, Greater Worcester Housing Connection, the Elliot street outreach team and CMHA. Intakes are conducted by the Assistant Program Coordinator and applicants are screened to ensure eligibility based on documented homelessness and disability. The sponsoring agencies submit the required documents for each potential participant to CHL for review and approval for entrance into the program. Each participant is assigned a housing case manager who conducts the housing search and also organizes programmatic forms, such as an initial assessment, program agreement, releases for medical providers, etc.
All of the program participants must be homeless at the time of program enrollment. This program requires that a majority of the participants meet the chronically homeless eligibility criteria determined by HUD. Other applicants may enter the program if the priority population needs have been met based on current applications. Many of the program participants also struggle with addiction as a co-factor of their homelessness, and so the program provides support and assistance to substance abuse treatment, as well as coordination of primary care services.
Each program participant is required to pay a portion of their household income toward rent based on a HUD calculation at roughly 30% of household income. A rent calculation form from HUD is used to determine the amount of rent each household pays. Each sponsoring agency is responsible for collecting rent contributions from the participants, and some have a co-resident living with them. These individuals are also required to contribute rent payments in accordance with HUD guidelines.
All of the housing slots are considered permanent housing with supportive services, and there is no limit on how long a participant can be in the program. Case managers work with each individual to increase their access to mainstream resources and encourage the development of skills to achieve greater self-determination while in the program.
Community Healthlink, Inc. Main Office
Community Healthlink Outpatient Clinic
Youth and Family Services
Leominster Counseling Center
Clinton Counseling Center
Fitchburg Counseling Center