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Cookeville To Extend UCHRA Program To Aid Needy Individuals

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
Cookeville To Extend UCHRA Program To Aid Needy Individuals

Cookeville City Council will extend its UCHRA Substance Abuse Solutions contract to continue aiding individuals in need.

City Manager James Mills said that the year-long contract will pay for on-call service 24/7 to assist police to help those in need with basic necessities. SAS Housing Program Manager Luke Eldridge said that their work plays an integral role in helping individuals get the resources they need to find long-term solutions.

“COVID has not been friendly,” Eldridge said. “That slowed down and shut down a lot of resources for these individuals. A friend of mine, her mother actually passed away in COVID because of her DTs. She could not get what she needed and she passed away. So these services are going to be highly, highly effective moving forward. ”

Eldridge said that SAS helped over 800 phone call intakes, 173 treatment placements, and some 7,500 emergency hotel nights to get individuals off the streets. Mills said that the cost of the contract totals some $50,000 a year.

The SAS program provides assistance in finding permanent housing, basic necessities such as permanent housing or hygiene products. Eldridge said that the program helps both individuals and families. Councilmember Eric Walker said that while he thinks that SAS’s program provides a great service for the community, he wanted to know what could be done to prevent the issue as well.

“I guess the question is how big is the homeless population in Cookeville,” Walker said. “And how many individuals does that look like day-to-day. Are we talked 100 people, 200 people, and to follow that up how many of them lived here prior to becoming homeless? And I mainly raise those concerns because I think that a large part of helping people is to help them before they become in a situation where they become homeless, and as a community, we need to know what we can do, where we can address these problems, where we can see the red flags or not, how we can prevent that.”

Senior Recover Coordinator Ryan Henry said that as the city grows, it’s important to think about how to bring in the resources to fall off the path. He said that it’s a community problem, that needs community involvement, to get a community solution. Eldridge said that work is part of SAS’s program does: pulling together resources to help individuals in the community get the help they need.

Mills said that the contract would be extended through June 30, 2022.


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