Atlanta — Jul 09, 2020
The Atlanta Regional Commission today announced that it will expand its innovative behavioral health coaching for older adults who are at risk of eviction, thanks to a grant from UnitedHealthcare and funding from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
Behavioral health coaching helps older adult residents in metro Atlanta’s affordable housing communities better manage behavioral health challenges such as depression and dementia, and reduce the risk of eviction, while improving quality of life. The program, the first of its kind in Georgia, was piloted in 2017 and now serves about 300 people.
The $200,000 grant from UnitedHealthcare’s Empowering Health commitment will enable ARC to provide additional staffing and to access clinical support for the Fuqua Center for Late-Life Depression, part of the Emory University School of Medicine. The grant will also provide funding and technical assistance to launch a second pilot project in Augusta through the Central Savannah River Area (CSRA) Agency on Aging. An additional $150,000 from the CARES Act will also help add staff to the metro Atlanta program. In all, the new funding will allow the program to reach about 150 new clients in metro Atlanta, increasing the program’s capacity by 50%.
- ARC’s behavioral health program helps older adults by taking a human-centered, “whole person” approach. Behavioral health coaches have been able to help all but three of the 300 people enrolled in the program avoid eviction.
- The program focuses on keeping people in housing, which is rare; most programs in this arena focus on providing housing.
- The program follows people over time after initial outreach to prevent serious consequences such as eviction due to relapse.
“We are so thankful for this funding to expand a vital service which addresses a serious catch-22,” said Becky Kurtz, managing director of ARC’s Aging and Independence Services. “While older individuals are at a higher risk of mental health challenges like dementia and depression, those who rely on fixed incomes are more likely to also depend on public housing or other affordable housing options. As a result, many find themselves at greater risk of eviction during the years when they’re most vulnerable. By addressing this issue, this service, like all our work, aims to create healthier communities for everyone.”
“This unprecedented environment has compounded challenges faced by Georgia’s most vulnerable residents and created further barriers to accessing the health care and services they need,” said Marcus Robinson, vice president of sales and account management with UnitedHealthcare of Georgia. “Our support of these organizations in Georgia through this UnitedHealthcare Empowering Health commitment will help provide critical aid and resources to the communities in Georgia that need it the most.”
“We are excited to work with ARC’s Behavioral Health Coaching program to help older individuals and adults with disabilities living in affordable housing communities avoid premature institutionalization and homelessness,” said Jeanette Cummings, director, CSRA Regional Commission Area Agency on Aging.
ARC’s behavioral health coaching is just one of its many programs designed to create a more livable region for all ages and abilities by providing services and adapting systems to meet our needs. ARC’s Empowerline provides trained phone and online counselors who continue to help older individuals and their caregivers to get their needs met at empowerline.org and 404-463-3333.
The Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) is the official planning agency for the 10-county Atlanta Region, including Cherokee, Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Douglas, Fayette, Fulton, Gwinnett, Henry and Rockdale counties as well as the City of Atlanta and 73 other cities. The Atlanta Regional Commission serves as a catalyst for regional progress by focusing leadership, attention and planning resources on key regional issues.
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