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Transatlantic Exchange: John’s Story

Our System Broker Alex has been in LA for the past two weeks as part of Homeless Link's Transatlantic Exchange, working with Brilliant Corners to learn about Critical Time Intervention (CTI) and how this way of working can benefit multiple complex needs programmes back in the UK. During her fortnight with Brilliant Corners, Alex shadowed a number of case management sessions and was particularly struck by one client: John. Here, Alex shares some of John’s story and explains how CTI works in practice.

John has faced a number of challenges throughout his life. He grew up in a chaotic household, exposed to his mom’s substance abuse, and joined a gang as a teenager. John began to drink alcohol problematically and was arrested for incidents whilst under the influence. As a result, John spent over 5 years in prison and was viewed as a serious offender.

Up until last year, John had no stable housing and was in and out of the prison system.

Due to the overcrowding crisis in California’s prisons, the Assembly Bill 109 was passed. The AB109 diverts people from prison or parole and into the probation system to alleviate the overcrowding. It also allows people the chance to reduce their prison sentence and engage with community programmes. As an ‘AB109-er’, this is what happened to John.

On release from prison, John was placed into transitional housing and was referred to Brilliant Corners’ Breaking Barriers programme by his probation officer.

Two weeks later, John was enrolled and had met his Case Manager at Breaking Barriers, Denise. Denise worked with John in his transitional housing and helped him set three goals for his future:

 Secure stable housing

 Secure employment

Access further education

In less than a month, Breaking Barriers secured accommodation for John. At this point, Stage One of Critical Time Intervention (CTI) started.

Stage One

The first phase of CTI is the most intensive. Denise visited John at least twice a month in his new apartment, and rang him weekly. John also worked with a Housing Co-Ordinator who checked in regularly.

Stage One of CTI should last around 6 months, with case managers speaking to clients at this point to see how they feel about moving on to Stage Two. John was doing well in his accommodation and had secured employment by the 6 month stage, and was proud to move to the second phase of CTI at this point.

For other clients, it might not be the right time to transition at 6 months; a 3-month extension period can be added, and at 9 months all clients must transition to Stage Two.

Stage Two

John is currently in Stage Two of CTI, and it is at this point that I met him and Denise. The main difference between the first and second phase is the frequency of contact, with home visits being reduced to once a month.

This has worked well for John, and he continues to engage with different support programmes, recently completing his Transportation Worker Identification Credential with Chrysalis (Breaking Barriers’ partner employment agency).

For other clients, Stage Two is very much a ‘trying out’ stage, and where things start to unravel or a crisis situation comes up, the Case Manager and Housing Co-ordinator can intensify their support, with some clients needing several visits a week.

During my visit, I observed a ‘The Courage To Change’ session between John and Denise. John seemed incredibly engaged with his workbook and I was really impressed with the conversation that developed. John talked about how power and respect were the things that mattered most to him during his chaos; it meant a kind of protection, for both himself and his family, and acceptance. Because of the respect he commanded, peers would look out for his mom, which was very important to John.

John explained that now, his respect for himself and his achievements are worth so much more, but it was difficult to initially leave the world he was a part of as a young man.

John is in a great place, living in a good neighbourhood with the ambition to progress in his career. He is dedicated to building healthy relationships with his family and staying a safe distance from peers he knows will be unhelpful to his recovery.

“My meeting with John filled me with hope: things do change with the right housing, support, and some kindness.”

Stage Three

By June 2017, John will be paying 40% towards his rent charges, and by November of this year Denise will talk to John about moving to Stage Three of the programme, which is more independent than Stages One and Two.

The 24-month Rapid Re-Housing Programme will end for John in May next year, and at this stage he’d be expected to take over 100% of the rent charge. As I mentioned in my earlier blog, it is not always possible for people to fully take-over their rent, and the Department for Health Services are currently looking at options to either extend the housing subsidy or to transition people into alternative programmes of support.

For John, the team are hopeful that he will be in a good position by May 2018 to exit the programme and be self-sufficient. Even at the end of the 24 months, there is a 3-month aftercare package offered if needed, and John knows he can now contact Denise at any time: they have an unbreakable connection.