New efforts in community to aid homeless are important

Homelessness is an unfortunate situation that happens to people, and one that occurs because of various factors. Fortunately, the homeless locally are getting help on two fronts.

Centerstone, a national mental health and substance abuse recovery program with a facility in Columbus, has received a three-year, $1.2 million federal grant that has enabled it to launch Centerstone Connections. The program is intended to help the chronically homeless across the state by getting at the root cause of a person’s homelessness.

Chronically homeless is defined as four separate periods or one full year without a permanent home. Substance abuse and mental illness are two significant factors that contribute to homelessness.

Considering that drug abuse has been an ongoing problem — and in the case of heroin a growing one — in Bartholomew County, a program such as Centerstone Connections is welcome.

Centerstone Connections will help chronically homeless residents in Bartholomew, Brown, Decatur, Johnson, Shelby, Fayette, Monroe, Morgan, Rush and Wayne counties. It also will assist military veterans who may not have quite reached a state of chronically homeless.

Centerstone’s new program also is a good complement to the Columbus Homeless Outreach Program (CHOP), a public-private partnership between the city and Centerstone, Love Chapel, Horizon House, Columbus Regional Hospital Mental Health Services and Columbus Township Trustee Ben Jackson.

CHOP, which serves only the Columbus area, just received a second year of funding from the city. That’s a good — and needed — allocation of city funds to aid local providers of homeless assistance serve those who are without a home.

Homelessness is an unfortunate situation for a person to be in and sometimes can be a difficult cycle to break. That’s why it’s reassuring to see local programs that give the homeless a better chance to break the cycle and get back on their feet for good.