Advantage Behavioral Health Systems

The Advantage Behavioral Health Systems building in Athens, Georgia on Friday, May 1, 2020. (Photo/Caroline Barnes)

Advantage Behavioral Health Systems, a community service board in Athens, was awarded $2 million in grant funds to develop a five-year homeless services expansion initiative.

The H.O.P.E. Initiative, which stands for Housing, Outreach, Partnership and Empowerment, will offer services, support and training to people experiencing homelessness with substance use disorders and mental disorders in Athens-Clarke, Barrow, Jackson, Oconee and Walton counties, according to an April 30 news release.

The multi-phase plan will incorporate peer support services, housing support, job training, child care assistance, and zero-barrier mobile medical care, among other services, the release said. This initiative will use Advantage’s existing homeless outreach programs to do its work.

According to the release, program participants will receive an assessment that looks into their barriers to housing stability, individual strengths and support networks. The grant funding will be used to address participants’ most immediate housing and support service needs.

Advantage is a Georgia safety net provider, offering services and treatment to people experiencing mental illness, addiction and developmental disabilities. Advantage’s services reached 10,000 people across Northeast Georgia last year, the release said.

“We are extremely excited about the positive impact we intend to make as a result of this expanded outreach effort,” said Tammy Conlin, CEO of Advantage, in the release. “We are looking forward to strengthening our partnerships with other community organizations in order to strengthen our local social services network of care for individuals and families experiencing homelessness.”

Northeast Georgia Regional Commission, the Athens Free Clinic and People Living in Recovery are partners working with Advantage on the initiative, Evan Mills, director of development and housing programs, said in the release. Other partners include Acceptance Recovery Center, Palm House Recovery Center, Georgia Council on Substance Abuse and Little Angels Daycare.

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