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James Plastiras Director of Public Information New York State Office of Mental Health 518-474-6540 james.plastiras@omh.ny.gov

April 27, 2023

NYS Office of Mental Health Announces $33 Million Investment to Combat Street Homelessness Through Safe Options Support Teams

Strategy Developed from Successful New York City Model Will Deploy New Safe Option Support (S.O.S.) Teams Statewide

The NYS Office of Mental Health (OMH) today announced awards totaling $33 million over five years to create seven new Safe Options Support (SOS) Teams that will provide intensive outreach, engagement and care coordination services to individuals living with mental illness who are homeless and unsheltered, often living on the streets.  S.O.S. teams are comprised of licensed clinicians, care managers, and peer specialists who partner with local government, community providers, hospitals, law enforcement, and others to identify and work with high-risk individuals.

OMH Commissioner Dr. Ann Sullivan said “SOS teams work collaboratively with community partners, including hospitals, law enforcement, local governments and service providers, to identify and reach out to people who are unsheltered and living with mental illness.  The teams we’ve already created are working well in New York City, and I applaud Governor Hochul for her commitment to expand this successful program to the rest of the state.”

The Safe Options Support program was implemented by the New York State Office of Mental Health, which created 10 initial outreach teams based in New York City to provide support and assistance to individuals on the streets and subways.  With this new expansion, OMH will be able to assess the program’s effectiveness outside of the New York City region with seven (7) additional teams.

To date, SOS teams have conducted more than 6,200 outreach encounters, and have enrolled 780 individuals into Critical Time Intervention (CTI) services.  CTI is a time-limited, evidence-based practice that helps connect vulnerable individuals to housing and services during difficult times of transition in their lives. The new teams will be located in areas outside of New York City experiencing high rates of street homelessness.

SOS Teams are trained to engage with service recipients to provide safe housing and help them develop self-management skills on their journey to recovery. They also utilize the aforementioned CTI approach which helps people with mental illness as they transition from street homelessness to stable housing. CTI promotes community integration, self-advocacy, and continuity of care by ensuring that the recipient has strong ties to their support systems during these critical periods. S.O.S. teams will provide coordinated care transition activities and support for up to 12 months, pre- and post-housing placement, starting from the time of referral through transition to community housing, treatment and supports.

The teams work in close collaboration with the Single Point of Access, local Departments of Social Services, hospitals, and others to ensure that those individuals who are in greatest need for this intensive service are identified, referred, and connected to services.

The awardees and counties they will serve include:

  • Rehabilitation Support Services, Inc.           Albany, Schenectady, Saratoga Counties
  • Search for Change, Inc.                             Westchester County                   
  • Liberty Resources                                      Monroe County
  • HONORehg, Inc.                                        Orange, Dutchess Counties
  • LI Coalition for the Homeless                      Nassau and Suffolk Counties
  • Catholic Charities of Chenango County         Broome, Chenango, Otsego Counties
  • Mid-Erie Mental Health Services Inc             Erie County

The new SOS teams will support Governor Hochul’s historic, $1 billion plan to strengthen the State’s Mental Healthcare system.



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