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mayo 27, 2019

Bringing Hope to San Francisco’s Homeless Individuals

Getting off the street for homeless individuals presents a myriad of challenges that are best supported by social services. Casa Quezada, a 52-unit housing site in San Francisco’s Mission District, in partnership with the Mission Neighborhood Resource Center (MNRC), a program of Mission Neighborhood Health Center, and Dolores Street Community Services (DSCS provides just that. Through the partnership, for the past seven years, residents have access to on-site clinical and case management services, daily meal service, and community-building activities. The site, part of the City and County of San Francisco’s Direct Access to Housing (DAH) program, is for formerly homeless individuals with special needs, many of whom have transitioned from a shelter program and who are monolingual Spanish-speaking immigrants with limited access to other subsidized housing in San Francisco.

MNRC Casa Quezada mental health supervisor, Carlos Mora, an associate professional clinical counselor with an MS in clinical counseling and psychology from Johns Hopkins, serves as liaison between the two organizations and administers a variety of programs at Casa Quezada that provide a holistic approach to residents’ mental health and social needs.

The program employs a rehabilitation model that helps individuals address their mental health and socialization challenges and works to help individuals re-integrate into society.

Residents are encouraged to attend weekly group therapy, art therapy and massage. An internship was also created for the residents to work at MNRC. By becoming part of a team, the interns learn life and socialization skills, and gain confidence in their abilities to interact with others. The goal is that as the residents build upon their skills they will become more independent.

Case conferences are held weekly to assess the residents’ status and needs. Dr. Christine Goods, Psy D, John Brin, MD, a psychiatrist, and Ruth Nuñez, Director of Homeless Services at MNRC along with two case managers assess the residents’ needs and make appropriate referrals to MNRC resources.

“Many residents struggle with depression, anxiety, post- traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and trust after having been on the streets for many years,” said Carlos. “We encourage and support them to take the steps to address their issues and heal.”

Carlos has a unique prospective on overcoming adversity. Born with glaucoma and resulting retinal detachments in both eyes, he became blind nearly two decades ago. Working through his own rehabilitation to adjust to living without his sight, he serves as example to the residents that challenges can be managed and new strategies can lead to independence.

“When I tell the residents my story, they understand that it’s possible to change,” said Carlos. “I tell them if I can do it, so can they.”

The hope is that the joint partnership continues to improve the lives of the residents. It’s one more important way that MNRC that contributes to the city in addressing the homeless situation.


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