Nobody Should Be Discharged into Homelessness

July 21, 2023

When a person is discharged from a hospital, the idea is to transition their care from the hospital back into the community. This idea holds true for mental and behavioral health treatment. But what happens if the person being discharged does not have a permanent home or address? What happens to them? And how does that affect their recovery?

Currently, when someone experiencing homelessness is discharged from Osawatomie State Hospital, they are discharged to City Union Mission in Kansas City, Missouri. In a recent 6-month period, 27 Wyandotte County residents were discharged from Osawatomie State Hospital to City Union Mission. Of those 27, our staff have only been able to find and reengage five of those individuals.

When someone is discharged into homelessness, the likelihood of them accessing needed follow-up care greatly diminishes and the likelihood of readmission to the hospital increases, putting the prospect of recovery further away.

To help combat this issue, Wyandot BHN is launching Lester Paul’s Place, a step-down transitional housing program for individuals discharged from Osawatomie State Hospital. This program will be staffed 24/7 and those in the program will have access to therapeutic interventions on-site to help manage their symptoms. Kim Wilson Housing staff will work closely with each person to help them develop the skills needed to live independently and secure permanent housing. Lester Paul’s Place is set to open in August.

While Lester Paul’s Place is a step forward, it will not prevent people from being discharged into homelessness. It is simply a drop in the bucket of what we need. There continues to be a growing need for more permanent supportive housing units in Wyandotte County. To be more specific, we would need 150 permanent supportive housing units to come online to adequately meet the current need. Access to permanent supportive housing is critical for the individuals we serve. It supports a person’s overall well-being and is a significant factor in avoiding law enforcement contact, incarceration and hospitalization.

We need to do more to ensure that individuals being discharged from the hospital have a safe place to return home to – where they can access continued treatment and support and begin their journey toward recovery.