Outreach Efforts Help the Homeless

By Heather Brown | 23 Dec, 2015

Bill CobunOne important part of Capital Crossroads and Discovery SIDs’ efforts comes through the dedication of our Outreach Specialist, Bill Cobun. Cobun has worked in this capacity since early 2014, after first serving as a Clean Team Ambassador and Discovery Security Officer. Since making the move, Cobun has helped roughly 200 men and woman find permanent housing in the last two years.

“We have a housing-first model of approaching the problem of people living on the street,” explained Cobun. “It’s nearly impossible to help people with addiction, mental illness and unemployment when they do not have a place to live. The change really starts to happen once an individual has a place to live.”

Cobun shared a few success stories from the past year, which help demonstrate the hard work that goes into making these life-altering changes happen.

One 55-year-old man who was helped had been evicted from the YMCA and was homeless. He was sleeping outside The Open Shelter on Mound Street. After a quick and severe decline in mental health, he found himself homeless after a long, successful career in international business. Because of the great anxiety he was experiencing, he could not successfully function in a shelter.

Cobun completed his supportive housing application and provided support services while they were waiting for the application to be processed. He was referred to St. Clair’s Hotel, supportive housing for those over 55. He is now living there, with furniture he received from the Furniture Bank. He also receives support from Access Ohio, a mental health hospital that provides him with medication to help him deal with his anxiety. Thanks to this stability, he now has gotten a job.

“His breakdown and its results were unexpected for him,” said Cobun. “He is an amazing guy, who lost his housing and things just collapsed for him. Now he has a home and is back in the workforce. Things are really turning around for him.”

Another older man was referred to Cobun in the early summer thanks to Ambassadors who noticed his erratic behavior. His mental illness had caused him to become a danger to himself. Cobun partnered with James Alexander from Maryhaven to have the man evaluated through the probate court. He received services from Twin Valley Behavioral Healthcare Hospital and was placed on medication, but before long he was back on the street, deteriorating.

Cobun and Alexander took him through the probate process again in July, but this time the SID reached out to Twin Valley asking if Cobun could come to the facility to provide additional support. This was approved, and Cobun was able to work on his housing intake documents, helping him apply for a new birth certificate and state identification. Such documentation is essential to getting individuals into housing situations and eventually employment. This individual was recently placed in housing on the west side. Cobun will continue to coordinate services and is hopeful that with this support he will remain on his medication and in housing. This represents the first time an individual had been placed into housing from Twin Valley rather than back on to the street. Cobun insists, “This is an important precedent. We now have a relationship with Twin Valley that I hope will lead to help for other people.”