Ben Hannah, an outreach worker with the West Virginia Coalition to End Homelessness’ State Opioid Response (SOR) program says, “Our goal is to end homelessness in our state, and truly, the only way to end homelessness is housing.” WVCEH is a state coalition that also functions as the lead agency for the West Virginia Balance of State Continuum of Care.
WVCEH offers a variety of programs to clients across the state. Ben explains, “Everyone is different, and we all face our own unique challenges, so we try to make sure that all our clients receive the help they need depending on their circumstances. In addition to the SOR program, they also offer Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH), which combines housing and other services for people with serious needs resulting from mental illness or disability, and the Rapid Rehousing (RRH) program, which helps families quickly escape homelessness. They also offer the Supportive Services for Veterans Families (SSVF), which quickly rehouses homeless veterans and their families. “We have several programs that can either help with homeless or the diversion and prevention of homelessness,” says Ben
As an outreach worker for Mingo, Logan, and Lincoln counties, Ben goes “out in the field” to reach every homeless person possible. “We try our best to reach every homeless person, person suffering from substance abuse disorder, and person about to be homeless,” he says. “We try to build a rapport with our clients, listen to them, and help them according to their needs.”
Ben tells us when WVCEH started, there weren’t many employees, but they were good at their jobs and they were able to do the work necessary to show the government how dire things can be for homeless West Virginians. “Through their hard work and commitment, we have grown into 40+ employees to better serve the people of West Virginia,” he says.
For Ben, the most important thing is helping people however possible, and showing them that they matter. “In my opinion, the most important part of our work is simple: showing up for people who have felt for far too long that they don’t matter.” Even when he doesn’t have the power to help, Ben always tries to point individuals to those who can help.
WVCEH does great work for people in need throughout the state, but Ben wishes they could do even more. He shares, “I wish I could reach every person suffering from homelessness or opioid/substance abuse disorder, and let them know that I care, I hear them, and I’m going to do my best to make sure that they can see the same great qualities in themselves that I do.” He hopes that their hard work will inspire others saying, “Hopefully the same compassion and appreciation that we have for our clients will become contagious, and we can all help end homelessness one person at a time, because at the end of the day, we still need help from our local governments and communities...to ensure that our people are safe and housed.”